‘Instant sales’: South Korea launches direct-to-consumer food commercialisation project to help local businesses

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

South Korea has set up a regulatory committee to implement an ‘instant sales’ direct-to-consumer food commercialisation industry project. ©Getty Images
South Korea has set up a regulatory committee to implement an ‘instant sales’ direct-to-consumer food commercialisation industry project. ©Getty Images

Related tags South korea processing Food safety

The South Korean government has set up a regulatory committee to implement an ‘instant sales’ direct-to-consumer food commercialisation industry project, hoping to help small businesses and reduce national food waste.

South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) has set up a new committee comprising members from the local Food Safety Association, Korea Food Industry Association and various academics to look into the implementation of a new framework that would enable more small food processors to have direct access to consumers.

This has been dubbed as the ‘instant sales’ industry project, and would include the setting up of stores at local government offices to market the processed food products included under this new industry.

“The instant sales industry would be distinct from the regular food manufacturing and processing industry, as firms in this category will be exempt from obligations such as facility set-up or HACCP,”​ MAFRA stated via a formal statement.

“This means that setting up a business would cost relatively less and can be much more easily implemented and operated via reporting [to the local government].

“At present, many of these products tend to be made at farm locations by farmers trying to sell items such as onion juice or strawberry jam to boost their income, but due to the lack of HACCP and so on, they are prohibited from distributing and selling via wholesalers or in regular retail stores.

“They end up only being able to sell to consumers via direct sales or direct delivery conducted at the site of the manufacturing facility, which are located near farms which consumers do not often visit, and many of these sellers are unfamiliar with online sales.

“This is the reason this instant sales project will be an important improvement to the local food industry, as it will allow these small businesses access to direct sales stores [with better consumer reach].”

These direct sales stores will be managed by instant sales manufacturing authorities, and are to be located in local governments for better management and monitoring.

Preliminary plans to set up this project will be finalised in the first half of 2024.

Food safety monitoring

According to MFDS, these products will still remain under its purview in terms of food safety management and distribution even though there will no longer be the normal food safety requirements such as HACCP.

“We have noted that for the instant sales industry, the food products will only be travelling short distances as the direct sales stores are located at their local government offices, plus these are equipped with refrigeration and freezing facilities so there is low potential of food spoilage,”​ said the ministry.

“This will be established and operated by local governments and distinct from general distribution channels, so there is low-to-no issue of equity with other food manufacturers and processors.

“More importantly, we believe that this expansion of sales channels for processed foods will provide an important boost to local farmer incomes and will reduce the potential of agri-food product wastage, so the potential gains are extremely high.

“MFDS will take every care to ensure food safety is maintained, and will be consulting all related stakeholders and industries to consider all aspects of setting up this new industry, as well as maintain continuous monitoring of the instant sales products [to ensure public health] is maintained.”

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