Retail Diversity for Dietary Diversity: Preventing Nutrition Deserts for the Urban Poor Within the Transforming Food Retail Environment in Vietnam


Nutrition insecurity among a growing number of urban poor in modernizing Southeast Asian metropolises is a critical issue. Serving to enlarge the capacity of local authorities in planning and implementing all-inclusive food-safe and nutrition-sensitive food retailing infrastructures, our proposed research seeks to answer the question ‘why do the urban poor eat the food they do’, in the context of transformations in the food retail environment and the organization of daily life. We want to understand in what way progressing retail modernization and restructuration policies impact the diet diversity and quality of the urban poor that depend on daily food shopping (purchasing foods on a day-to-day basis) often due to irregular and fluctuating daily income levels due to the nature of employment. Serving as a case in point for similar developments in SEA, our research focuses on Hanoi, the capital of lower-middle income country (LMIC) Vietnam, listed among the world’s fastest growing economies. Our research specifically focuses on women, since nutrient deficiencies are particularly prevalent among women of reproductive age. Women are often the primary decision maker and mostly responsible for food purchases, meal preparation and household food allocation. They are thus key-actors in understanding and addressing nutrition vulnerability.  

Lead Institution

  • Fresh Studio

Collaborating Institutions

  • Bioversity International
  • Environmental Policy Group, Wageningen University

Principal Investigator(s)

  • Sigrid Wertheim-HeckPhD, Professor Food and Healthy Living Aeres University of Applied Sciences; Senior Research Fellow consumption sociology and sustainable food system transformations, Wageningen University

Principal Co-Investigator(s)

  • Jessica Raneri, MSc, Senior Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture Advisor to the Agricultural Development and Food Security Section, Agricultural Development, Infrastructure and Water Branch, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Peter Oosterveer, Prof. PhD,  Professor in the field of globalization and sustainability of food production and consumption, Wageningen University


  • Ha Thi Lan Anh, MSc, Senior Marketing and Business Development consultant, Fresh Studio
  • Marion Klaver, MSc, Marketing and Business Development consultant, Fresh Studio
  • Ha Thanh Dat, MA, Marketing and Business Development consultant, Fresh Studio
  • Gina Kennedy, PhD, Component Leader, Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems, Bioversity International

Posters & Presentations

  • “Food safety and nutrition for the urban poor – exploring the social justice policy dilemma of consumption.” By Wertheim-Heck SC. 3rd Agriculture, Nutrition & Health (ANH) Academy Week, Accra, Ghana, 25-29 June 2018.
  • Retail Diversity for Dietary Diversity (RD4DD) Preventing nutrition desserts for the urban poor.” By Wertheim-Heck SC. 3rd Agriculture, Nutrition & Health (ANH) Academy Week, Accra, Ghana, 25-29 June 2018.
  • Wertheim-Heck, S.C.O., and Raneri, J.E. (2019). “Understanding how food retail transformations impact the diets of the urban poor. An evidence base from Vietnam.” 170th EAAE Seminar 15-17 May 2019 Montpellier. 


Open Access Data

Webinar Presentations





  • DFC blog from Krystal Rampalli and Sigrid Wertheim-Heck