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The Wholesale and Retail of Food in Zambia
The formal food wholesale and retail sector, which was estimated to be worth US$12.85bn in 2016, is relatively young and is dominated by foreign regional supermarket chains. Prior to the liberalisation of the Zambian economy in 1990, the sector was dominated by state-owned stores as well a number of traditional small-scale family-owned businesses. Economic reforms, including privatising most government-controlled enterprises, encouraged the spread of supermarket chain stores across Zambia.
A Changing Sector
Despite the dominance of regional supermarket chains in the formal sector, it is estimated that up to 70% of households source their food from informal channels through traditional small stalls, informal shops and kiosks, street vendors as well as marketplaces. However, analysts predict that as the rate of urbanisation increases and more formal retail space is built, there will be more opportunities for formal retailing. A recent household survey revealed that 50% of respondents said they visited a supermarket once a month, which suggests bulk buying of staples from supermarkets and using the informal economy for other foodstuffs. Total food consumption is predicted to grow at 10% over the next few years even though 54.4% of the country’s population is classified as “poor” with 40.8% living in “extreme poverty”.
The report on the Wholesale and Retail of Food in Zambia examines current conditions, the dependence of retailers on imported produce and factors that influence the success of the sector. Profiles are provided for ten wholesalers and retailers including the three main retailers, South African companies Shoprite, Spar and Pick ‘n Pay. Also profiled is local company, Zambeef Products Plc which operates the butcheries at Shoprite outlets as well as its own outlets. In a recent development Zambeef has begun rolling out its new “macro” outlets which offer meat, dairy and eggs alongside stock feed and day-old-chicks in strategic locations. It has plans to establish these outlets throughout the country.