The net effect of supermarkets in the developing world will be to improve the welfare of consumers, but the extent of that benefit and how well it is distributed are open questions. Many factors, including the fate of small farmers, traditional traders, and mom-and-pop shops, will come into play, and any judgment of the supermarket revolution has to consider them all.
In this CGD working paper, non-resident fellow Peter Timmer places the supermarket debate in the broader evolution of food policy analysis, which is a framework for integrating household, market, macro, and trade issues as they affect hunger and poverty. Increasingly, supermarkets provide the institutional linkages across these issues. Timmer draws from many perspectives to assess the effect the supermarket revolution may have on poverty alleviation.