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-Heck, PhD, Professor applied sciences Food and Healthy Living Aeres University AS; Senior Research Fellow, Wageningen University, Expert Advisor Research and Strategy, Fresh Studio 

Principal Co-Investigator(s)

> Gina Kennedy, PhD, Component Leader, Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems, Bioversity International

> Peter Oosterveer, Prof. PhD,  Professor in the field of globalization and sustainability of food production and consumption, Wageningen University


> Jessica Raneri, MSc, Nutrition Research Specialist, Bioversity International

> 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 

Conference Presentations

1. Wertheim-Heck, S.C.O. (2018) Plenary presentation: Food safety and nutrition for the urban poor – exploring the social justice policy dilemma of consumption. 3rd Agriculture, Nutrition & Health (ANH) Academy Week 25 – 29 June 2018 – Accra, Ghana.

2. Wertheim-Heck, S.C.O. (2018) -Retail Diversity for Dietary Diversity (RD4DD) Preventing nutrition desserts for the urban poor. 3rd Agriculture, Nutrition & Health (ANH) Academy Week 25 -29 June 2018 -Accra, Ghana.


1. Retail diversity for dietary diversity:


1. Interactive map of the food retail environment:

2. Policy Brief: