This workshop enabled us to explore the range of causes and implications of supermarket expansion on communities and develop an understanding into the varying issues that are prominent across the countries represented.
~ Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, India, Australia
“Food Sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.”
~ La Via Campesina
Supermarket expansion has already had an enormous impact on small-scale farmers, traders and consumers. Corporations and their supermarkets look to expand aggressively into new markets and are targeting a growing Asian population and its rapid urbanisation.
Globalisation has resulted in a number of damaging economic structural adjustments including Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and trade and investment liberalization (Free Trade Agreements).
Increasingly powerful corporations now direct a modern food distribution system that leaves a void in the connection between food producers and consumers.
With access to global finance and the power to influence financial (de)regulation these operations easily dominate the smaller traditional marketplaces and their vendors.
We discussed how these effects reach far and deep into community networks and are disastrous because the people that are affected are already vulnerable and have no safety nets.
A lack of alliance and cohesion among social movements against this expansion results in ineffective opposition and provides little hope of a bright future for traditional workers.
Markets are deeply embedded in the Asian way of life and represent a key feature in their culture. They represent an essential element of Asian lifestyle and their ability to access fresh produce and goods. They also form an important part of the social fabric for communities.
Moves towards cash cropping and the homogenisation of food products through the commercialisation of food systems is a result of the expansion of supermarket and convenience stores. This has resulted in a reduction in traditional knowledge and diversity surrounding food preparation techniques, traditional foods, produce varieties and traditional seeds.
Particular impacts on women / Women’s Rights
Women are particularly vulnerable given that they represent a large component of the labour force involved in food production, distribution and trading.
With shifts in agricultural production methods, they are often exposed to unsafe practices and high levels of chemical sprays.
Brainwashing (the corporate media agenda)
Branding by commercial retailers that offer ‘the modern lifestyle’ encourages communities away from their traditional and sustainable way of life.
Advertising of convenience food products and their availability promotes changes in consumption habits.
Negative promotion / branding of markets as dirty and unhygienic ensures little opposition from community to the introduction of commercial food outlets.
Changes in consumption behaviour and convenience shopping results in compulsive shopping habits and an increasing culture of spending and consumption: with raising personal debt.
Promotion and availability of cheap junk foods leads to poor health.
Resulting in rapidly increasing rates of diabetes in the developing world.
Cheep convenience products have higher levels of starch/sugars/salt/preservatives and have replaced the cheapest food types for the poorest people.
Studies tabled indicate rapid rates of Diabetes now affecting the poorest people in the world correlate to supermarket expansion.
Increasingly the determination of food safety has become regulated by corporations.
Negative promotion of natural foods as unhygienic / promotion of commercially produced foods as safe – even though contaminants are generally found to be higher.
Studies tabled indicate that market produce contains less external and system pesticide residues than supermarket produce.
Growing individualism and loss of spirit of collectivism
People are alienated from the food they produce and consume
Erosion of freedom in our choices
Privatisation of vibrant and safe public space
Increasing dependence on corporations for food.
Privatisation of Public Space
Original market places on community land are being developed under commercial contract. This leaves traders often with no interim place to sell goods.
The cost of the development is passed on to market stall holders who may not be able to afford the new additional fees.
Evidence tabled suggests that government agencies are forcing eviction by starting ‘accidental’ fires in marketplaces. Some methods include firebombs and other extreme methods such as live rats dipped in kerosene are set alight in the marketplace and let loose.
Employment / Labor
Unemployment and magnetisation
Collapse of rural communities
Increasing exploitation of labour
Intensification of land grabs
Imbalance of power supports corporations over small vendors/farmers
Concentration of wealth in the hands of a few through centralised food system and away from the greater collective of farmers.
Big business has the power and money to lobby government for changes in legislation to further their cause. They can also afford to run their operations at a loss in order to out-compete local traders.
Agricultural pollution through increased chemical use.
Destruction of natural resources in order to increase land available for commercial production.
Monoculture cropping destroys agricultural ecology of small farm systems.
Pollution through increased packaging etc
Future Feeders Team