The customised health functional food service has been introduced as a pilot project in South Korea since June 2020.
Companies involved include Pulmuone Health & Living, Amorepacific, Amway Korea, Cosmax NBT, Herbalife Korea, Bigsome, and Mono Labs.
Two years on, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) is planning to institutionalise the sector by introducing regulations to support its growth.
In fact, this has been identified as one of the 100 major tasks for food and drug regulatory innovation by the ministry, the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), and the Korea National Council of Consumer Organisations (KNCCO).
To institutionalise the sector, the MFDS is planning to revise the Act on Health Functional Foods.
This would “mainly include the establishment of a customised health functional food sales business and the introduction of a customised health functional food manager,” the MFDS said in a statement.
Yu-Kyoung Oh, who took up the ministerial role at MFDS this year, said they would “spare no effort” in supporting the sector.
Oh said so while visiting a customised nutrition store ran by Pulmuone on December 2.
“Basic hygiene and safety management is an important factor in order for customised health functional foods to gain public trust and be successfully institutionalised.
“The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety carefully examines the entire process of the pilot project to see if there are any parts that need to be systematically supplemented to ensure consumer safety, even as customised health functional foods improve the convenience of consumption and purchase and create a new market for the health functional food industry.
“We will spare no effort, such as revamping laws and regulations, so that the sector can become an engine of growth,” she said.
Pulmuone’s store is located at the ORGA Whole Foods in Bangi-dong, Seoul.
The company was selected as a participant in the trial project in April 2020 and after being involved for two years, it was granted to take part in it for another two years in June this year.
To date, 12 companies have opened 101 stores under the pilot project.
Under the trial run, in-store pharmacists and nutritionists would decide the health functional foods suitable for the consumers based on their individual lifestyles and health conditions.
At the moment, the biggest concern is to ensure that the health functional foods are packed and given to the consumers in a safe and hygienic manner.