Industry boost? South Korea now permitting second hand sales of health functional foods

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

South Korea is allowing individual resale of health functional foods in a pilot project from May 8. © Getty Images
South Korea is allowing individual resale of health functional foods in a pilot project from May 8. © Getty Images

Related tags health functional foods online sales MFDS

The South Korean regulator has permitted the individual resale of health functional foods via online platforms from May 8 in a one-year long pilot project.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) said it would analyse feedback gathered from the pilot project and determine if it is feasible to officially institutionalise such a practise.

“The pilot project will run for one year starting May 8, and the results of the project will be analysed to determine whether to institutionalise it to help people's daily lives,”​ said the regulator.

Resale of health functional foods is allowed to take place on two second-hand trading platforms, namely Daangn Market and Bunjang, as they already have in place systems to ensure safe product distribution.

On these platforms, a separate category for individual transactions of health functional foods will be established for operation during the pilot project period.

The products should be unopened, with all the product labels, including the product name and product picture visible.

Also, only products that could be stored at room temperature with more than six months of consumption period left are allowed to be resold.

Each individual is limited to 10 transactions per year with cumulative transaction deals amounting to 300,000 won or less.

This is to prevent individuals from profiting from second hand health functional foods sales.

“The number of transactions or sales per individual is limited to 10 or less per year and a cumulative amount of 300,000 won or less to prevent excessive individual sales for profit purposes.

“It is also to prevent food that individuals purchase directly from overseas or bring into the country through a purchasing agent for the purpose of self-consumption,” ​said the MFDS.

Earlier this year, the regulator said​ it was contemplating the introduction of the pilot project aimed at cutting wastage and facilitating convenient resale activities.

For instance, individuals could have the opportunity to sell away products that were given to them as gifts but have not been put to good use.

Prior to the pilot project, individuals attempting to resell health functional foods online could be reported by other online users or the platform itself.

This is because such resale activities were viewed as “businesses” that needed to be reported to the authorities.

On the other hand, the two online platforms participating in the pilot project would need to ensure that the transaction limits permitted for each individual are being followed.

The platforms should also report cases of unfair advertising to the MFDS, which will also keep a lookout on cases of adverse events and safety-related complaints.  

"The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety announced that it will continue to strengthen the safety management of health functional foods while doing its best to promote health functional food policies that resolve consumer inconveniences and industry difficulties,"​ it said. 

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