I am strolling through an Intimex supermarket in Hanoi, Vietnam. If I don’t take a quick glance on the bill boards screaming out promotions in Vietnamese language, I could have imagined myself strolling to a Belgian supermarket. As the racks with fruits, vegetables, meat, cookies, soft drinks, diapers, etc. are looking very familiar. The same well known A-brands on the shelves as in my weekly visited supermarket in Belgium. The same green shining apples wrapped per four with plastic in a little isomo scale. Only the dragon fruits in the fruit department are new to me, and the racks with rice and noodles are a bit longer here than I am used to.
Supermarkets become more and more popular in Vietnam and other Asian countries. Depending to the source you consult, 20 to 40 à 50% of today’s Vietnamese food distribution is going through supermarkets. In Belgium, circa 75% of the food we consume is bought in a supermarket. So the power concentration of supermarkets in the food chain is not yet as big in Asia as in Europe, but more and more chain stores are popping up, especially in and around the fast growing cities.
Nevertheless, the informal market is still very strong in Vietnam. Small shops or sellers in the streets with fruits and vegetables, or meat or milk or candy, are always close by in Hanoi. Close by and moreover, always fresh. Next to the smell of the Vietnamese crazy traffic, you can always joy the smell of fresh foods. Fresh and good looking, but also healthy? Healthy or not healthy, that’s the question in Vietnam. Because a lot of farmers are seduced to use cheap, Chinese, but especially unhealthy, pesticides to increase their yield and profits. However, a bunch of studies demonstrated already the negative health effects from a range of these pesticides. But as you don’t see on a tomato or lettuce which pesticide is used, you don’t really know if it’s healthy or not what you eat. You just hope that it is ‘healthy’ and ‘safe’.