Revisiting China’s Supermarket Revolution: Evidence From Nanjing

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Photo credit: Yuan Yuan/Hungry Cities Partnership

China is experiencing rapid urbanization and like many countries in the Global South with emerging markets, is experiencing major transformations of its national and local food systems, characterized particularly by an increase in supermarkets. Reardon and others referred to this as the “supermarket revolution” or “supermarketization” suggesting that supermarkets will progressively gain greater control over the urban food supply and marketing by supermarket chains. In recent years, there has been increasing evidence contradicting the applicability of the “supermarket revolution” theory in the Global South. This presentation uses research conducted by the Hungry Cities Partnership team at Nanjing University, including interviews with supermarket customers and managers in Nanjing, to revisit the supermarketization theory. It focuses on the competition pattern of supermarkets selling fresh products and wet markets and questions the prediction of supermarket domination.

About the speaker

Yuan Yuan is a Queen Elizabeth Scholar with the Hungry Cities Partnership at Laurier/BSIA. She is a PhD candidate in School of Geography at Nanjing University in China. Yuan holds a Bachelor of Management degree in Land Resources Management. During her QES Advanced Scholarship, Yuan examined the supermarketization process in Nanjing, its interactions with traditional food outlets and the implications for the local food economy.

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