Food Access and Insecurity in a Supermarket City

Mary Caesar and Jonathan Crush


Rapid Urbanisation, Urban Food Deserts and Food Security in Africa

The economic revival of Msunduzi over the last decade has been driven by the influx of capital to a city that claims to offer significant advantages to the investor. This chapter examines whether this marketing ploy has enlarged the choices of the poorer residents of the city, with particular regard to their food security. Using data from the 2008–9 AFSUN baseline survey, the chapter shows that Msunduzi’s residents experience higher levels of food insecurity than like neighbourhoods in Cape Town and Johannesburg and many other cities in the SADC region. Unlike a number of these cities, the food sourcing strategies of households are severely constrained. Urban agriculture and rural–urban food transfers are limited and the informal food economy is much less significant than elsewhere. The control of the urban food system largely rests in the hands of supermarkets whose location and pricing policies put quality food outside the reach of most poor households. Although many are forced to buy supermarket food through lack of choice, food shortages and a lack of dietary diversity are endemic. Worst off are female-headed households whose levels of unemployment are higher than average and whose incomes are lower than average.

Citation: 2016. In J. Crush and J. Battersby (eds.), Rapid Urbanisation, Urban Food Deserts and Food Security in Africa (Switzerland: Springer).


Featured Country: South Africa

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