Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why The 'Cheap Food Revolution' Hasn't Reached Poor Countries

Date:
June 19, 2008
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
Most people don’t think twice as they pass spring apples from the southern hemisphere as they enter the supermarket, but they are participating in a cheap food revolution that has swept the industrialized world over the past couple of generations. The supermarket is the last step in a complicated global process that has changed every aspect of how we produce and consume food. In theory, the arrival of supermarkets in a country should bring with it the “cheap food” that we have enjoyed for so many years.

Most people don’t think twice as they pass spring apples from the southern hemisphere as they enter the supermarket, but they are participating in a cheap food revolution that has swept the industrialized world over the past couple of generations. The supermarket is the last step in a complicated global process that has changed every aspect of how we produce and consume food. In theory, the arrival of supermarkets in a country should bring with it the “cheap food” that we have enjoyed for so many years.

Related Articles


In a probing study for Economic Development and Cultural Change, Bart Minten of the International Food Policy Research Institute asks: “The Food Retail Revolution in Poor Countries: Is It Coming or Is It Over?” Using the African island nation of Madagascar—171st out of 181 countries in the IMF’s calculations of purchasing power based on GDP—as his case study, Minten shows that “cheap food” isn’t so cheap for poor countries.

Multi-national chains have turned their attention to the developing world, where the demand for lower prices would seem universally higher. For instance, supermarkets jumped from 10%-20% to 50%-60% of food retail from 1990 to the early 2000s in most of South America, and free market disciples have praised the multinationals for bringing cheap food to the poor. The Economist, in fact, described one of the chains in Madagascar as the “Wal-Mart of Africa,” and praised it for bringing low-priced goods to the poor. The problem is: the poor aren’t coming.

At the heart of the problem is a classic cost-benefit analysis by the consumer. For his study, Minten showed pictures taken of various items (rice, meat, tomatoes) from the newer supermarket chains to a sample of Malagasy shoppers. The respondents overwhelmingly agreed that the multinational chains had higher quality goods, but says Minten, “when I control for quality attributes, I find that food prices in the global retail chains are 40%-90% higher than those in traditional retail markets.“ Malagasy shoppers were not willing to pay the high prices. Minten finds that the local markets operate at very low margins and carry local foods of widely varying quality largely untouched by modern agriculture, both of which would be unacceptable to a multinational company.

According to Minten, “it thus seems that agriculture for local consumption in poor countries will be largely bypassed by the global food retail revolution.” If the chains do survive in poorer countries, they will likely remain exclusively the domain of the middle classes, especially so in the poorest African countries.

Bart Minten is a Senior Research Fellow in the New Dehli office of the International Food Policy Research Institute. He was previously senior research associate for the Cornell Food and Nutrition Policy Program in Madagascar.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Minten et al. The Food Retail Revolution in Poor Countries: Is It Coming or Is It Over? Economic Development and Cultural Change, 2008; 56 (4): 767 DOI: 10.1086/588168

Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "Why The 'Cheap Food Revolution' Hasn't Reached Poor Countries." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080619163112.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2008, June 19). Why The 'Cheap Food Revolution' Hasn't Reached Poor Countries. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080619163112.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "Why The 'Cheap Food Revolution' Hasn't Reached Poor Countries." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080619163112.htm (accessed January 26, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, January 26, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Newsy (Jan. 24, 2015) A string of black bear attacks has Florida officials considering lifting the ban on hunting the animals to control their population. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Newsy (Jan. 23, 2015) Experts estimate Ebola has wiped out one-third of the world&apos;s gorillas and chimpanzees. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Controversy Shrouds Captive Killer Whale in Miami

Controversy Shrouds Captive Killer Whale in Miami

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) Activists hope the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) will label killer whales endangered, allowing lawyers to sue a Miami aquarium to release an orca into the wild after 44 years. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
‘Healthy’ Foods That Surprisingly Pack on Pounds

‘Healthy’ Foods That Surprisingly Pack on Pounds

Buzz60 (Jan. 23, 2015) Some &apos;healthy&apos; foods are actually fattening. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) shines a light on the sneaky foods like nuts, seeds, granola, trail mix, avocados, guacamole, olive oil, peanut butter, fruit juices and salads that are good for you...but not so much for your waistline. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins