The Geography of Supermarkets in Cape Town: Supermarket Expansion and Food Access

Urban Forum. 2014, 25(2): 153-164.

Although the rapid expansion in the number of supermarkets in South and Southern Africa in recent years is well-documented, the potential impact of this process is not well understood. The existing literature does not engage adequately with the spatial distribution of supermarkets within cities and is therefore unable to address the impact of these stores on household food security. The paper presents a mapping of the location of supermarkets in Cape Town with reference to income characteristics of neighbourhoods and transport routes. The distribution of supermarkets is shown to be highly unequal and the distance of low-income from high-income areas hinders access to supermarkets for the urban poor. The paper further argues that the supermarkets in low-income areas typically stock less healthy foods than those in wealthier areas and, as a result, the supermarkets do not increase access to healthy foods and may, in fact, accelerate the nutrition transition.

Jane Battersby & Stephen Peyton

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