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Supermarket Imperialism: How The Growth Of International Supermarket Chains Is Restructuring Global Food Production And Distribution (Includes Bibliography)

2507 words - 10 pages

The role of supermarkets on international markets is rapidly expanding, as suppliers of goods and services to consumers and the building local and international economies. The extent to which they do this is highly refuted as supermarkets have an array of effects on markets and economies. Whilst they provide jobs and services to the region, they can also drive pre-existing markets out of business if they fail to compete or meet supermarket standards. Supermarket chains influence traditional chains of distribution and production through homogenisation of services and products.In the examination of international food chains, it is clearly evident the extent to which supermarkets can control markets. Dominate international supermarket chains include the United Kingdoms, Tesco, the United States, Wal-Mart, and French-based, Carrefour. Wal-mart is the largest company in the US with 496, 857 full-time employees and annual sales of $66, 465, 100 000 (as of 2/04) and is also the world's largest retailer. According to Wikipedia , Carrefour "is the second largest retail group in the world in terms of revenue and sales figures after Wal-Mart". Tesco, according to one newspaper article , "Is the second-largest retailer in Europe and the third in the world. It has 2,365 stores around the world and its annual turnover is more than US$68 billion per year." Clearly these three supermarket retailers have a significant role in their respective countries economies and markets. This dominance also extends internationally.Growth of supermarkets is occurring rapidly over the globe, which is affecting the production and distribution of foodstuffs in numerous ways. The table below clearly outlines the major global supermarkets across the globe. Carrefour, Ahold and Metro have the greatest international dominance, yet sales still don't reach the height of Wal-mart. Therefore, it is both the economic power and global power of supermarkets which affect their ability to restructure global food production and distribution.Table 1: Major Global RetailersSource: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry, AustraliaSupermarkets have not had a particularly significant effect on international trade. This is due to numerous factors, such as consumers favouring local goods and regional tastes or preferences. This is especially evident in Australia, with the figures below.Graph 1: Exports and Imports of Horticultural ProductsSource: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry, AustraliaThe import of processed foodstuffs significantly lower than raw foodstuff as can be seen in Graph 2.Graph 2: Exports and Imports of Processed Food and BeverageSource: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry, AustraliaIt is evident that imports are much lower than exports as Australian demand tends to favour Australian grown and made foodstuffs. Supermarkets also are more inclined to sell locally produced goods as transportation costs are then minimised and stores can avoid...

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