Food markets across the continent are failing African consumers, with malnutrition and broader food insecurity on the continent growing. Production and trading of key food commodities are highly concentrated within and across African countries. At consumer level, the ‘supermarketisation’ of food retail is shaping household choices through packaging, marketing, promotions and positioning on shelves. The large supermarket chains act as gatekeepers for smaller suppliers and set their own private standards, further entrenching their power in the value chain.
Africa’s food is produced and consumed through highly concentrated value chains. Shocks have cascading effects across our food systems and exacerbate the problem of food insecurity and the building climate emergency. The decision to make food systems more sustainable and resilient to shocks lies in the hands of a relatively small number of lead firms and the markets in which they operate. Large incumbent firms have typically invested and innovated to strengthen their market positions. They naturally have the most to lose from food system changes and are likely to delay action. Smaller market participants and SME are undermined through the existing market powers and have their returns squeezed by powerful suppliers and buyers.
The issues of concentration and integration are therefore critical to address the four key food security pillars. While food system transformation requires competition law and policy measures to spur more inclusive production systems, there are measures that incumbent firms can take towards making food systems more resilient and inclusive in the short term.
In the final part of this two-part webinar, we explore together with CCRED what these measures could look like and how firms can integrate them to support food system transformation.