Growth in Developing Countries
There has been a rapid transformation of the food retail sector in developing countries, beginning in the 1990s. This applies particularly to Latin America, South-East Asia, China and South Africa. However, growth is being witnessed in nearly all countries. With growth, has come considerable competition and some amount of consolidation. The growth has been driven by increasing affluence and the rise of a middle class; the entry of women into the workforce; with a consequent incentive to seek out easy-to-prepare foods; the growth in the use of refrigerators, making it possible to shop weekly instead of daily; and the growth in car ownership, facilitating journeys to distant stores and purchases of large quantities of goods. The opportunities presented by this potential have encouraged several European companies to invest in these markets (mainly in Asia) and American companies to invest in Latin America and China. Local companies also entered the market. Initial development of supermarkets has now been followed by hypermarket growth. In addition there were investments by companies such as Makro and Metro in large-scale Cash-and-Carry operations.
While the growth in sales of processed foods in these countries has been much more rapid than the growth in fresh food sales, the imperative nature of supermarkets to achieve economies of scale in purchasing, means that the expansion of supermarkets in these countries has important repercussions for small farmers, particularly those growing perishable crops. New supply chains have developed involving cluster formation; development of specialized wholesalers; leading farmers organizing supply; and farmer associations or cooperatives. In some cases supermarkets have organized their own procurement from small farmers; in others wholesale markets have adapted to meet supermarket needs.
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