Equitable access to nutritious, safe, and culturally appropriate foods is central to food system transformations and to the objective of achieving sustainable healthy diets for all. The gap between those who can afford a nutritious diet and those who cannot is growing, resulting in the persistence of hunger and malnutrition among vulnerable communities.
Informal food markets are a crucial source of nutrition and livelihoods for many, especially the most vulnerable, in low- and middle-income countries, providing affordable and accessible nutrient-rich foods. Despite their importance for food and nutrition security and for the economy, informal food systems are often marginalized by policy and research, partly due to concerns over food safety and because they are perceived as “unmodern” or traditional, unorganized, and inefficient . However, these markets offer essential services, primarily to the poor and most vulnerable, making food widely and conveniently available and providing an accessible source of income.
The purpose of the side event is to derive a set of principles from the discussions that can help national policy makers globally develop risk-based policies that reward positive food safety – as opposed to criminalization and marginalization – as a means to improve the governance, operations and future of informal markets to ensure their continued contribution to livelihoods, health, and nutrition.