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The Wholesale and Retail of Food in the Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is endowed with minerals and is potentially one of the richest countries on earth, but it remains a relatively small market with GDP estimated by the World Bank at US$35bn in 2016 and per capita Gross National Income (GNI) at just US$420. Although the country has a population of more than 81 million people, the formal food wholesale and retail sector remains small. The majority of the population lives below the poverty line and most food sales occur in the informal sector.
A Challenging Operating Environment
The Congolese business operating environment is seen by English-speaking retail chains as challenging given the regulatory constraints, corruption, dysfunctional infrastructure and difficulties with the French language. Added to this is the decline in the country’s export earnings that has caused economic activity to decelerate and inflation to increase to more than 40%. As a result, regional supermarkets, which are spreading rapidly throughout sub-Saharan Africa, have yet to establish themselves in the DRC. Shoprite is the exception as it opened a store in the capital, Kinshasa in 2012 and plans to open a second store when Luano City Mall opens in Lubumbashi in 2018.
The report on the Wholesale and Retail of Food in the Democratic Republic of Congo examines current conditions, the dependence of formal retailers on imported produce and factors that influence the success of the sector. Profiles are provided for the four major retailers including the Hyper-Psaro Sarl Group which has five hypermarkets and imports more than 20,000 products from Europe and South Africa. It has its own transport company, a licence to manufacture various products from Nestle, Unilever and Parmalat, and owns a commercial farm that cultivates produce for its own supermarkets as well as the general public.