Hungry Cities Partnership

Document Type

Hungry Cities Paper

Publication Date



Balsillie School of International Affairs


Existing studies suggest that despite the proliferation of supermarkets, traditional wet markets have persisted in many countries and have been playing an important role in people’s daily food access. Yet, studies investigating the issue of food access and its influences on food security have mainly focused on food deserts and the proximity to supermarkets, with limited focus on wet markets and other food outlets. This study investigates the influence of the proximity to wet markets and supermarkets on urban household dietary diversity in Nanjing. Based on the data collected through a citywide survey in 2015 and the map data of wet markets and supermarkets, the Poisson regression model was deployed to examine the correlations between geographical proximity to supermarkets and wet markets and household dietary diversity. The results show that the coefficients for the distance to the nearest wet market are not statistically significant. Although the coefficients for the distance to nearest supermarket are statistically significant, they were too minor to be of practical importance. We argue, however, that the insignificant correlations reflect exactly the high physical accessibility to food outlets and the extensive spatially dense food supply network constituted by wet markets, supermarkets and small food stores in Nanjing. This is verified by the survey data that more than 90% of households purchased fresh food items within their neighbourhoods or in walking distance. In addition to the densely distributed food outlets, various other factors contributed to the non-significant influence of the distance to the nearest wet market and supermarket, including the many small food stores within or close to residential communities, the prevalence of three-generation extended households and high household income. This study highlights the importance of allowing mixed land use for food outlets with residential land and integrating wet markets into urban infrastructure planning.