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The Rise of Supermarkets in Africa: Implications for Agrifood Systems and the Rural Poor



The rise of supermarkets in Africa since the mid-1990s is transforming the food retail sector. Supermarkets have spread fast in Southern and Eastern Africa, already proliferating beyond middle-class big-city markets into smaller towns and poorer areas. Supplying supermarkets presents both potentially large opportunities and big challenges for producers. Supermarkets' procurement systems involve purchase consolidation, a shift to specialised wholesalers, and tough quality and safety standards. To meet these requirements, producers have to make investments and adopt new practices. This is hardest for small producers, who risk exclusion from dynamic urban markets increasingly dominated by supermarkets. There is thus an urgent need for development programmes and policies to assist them in adopting the new practices that these procurement systems demand.

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