Agribusiness Handbook - Food retail

Agribusiness Handbook

Food Retail

download pdf     586Kb

Rome, 2009

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) concerning the legal or development status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The mention of specific companies or products of manufacturers, whether or not these have been patented, does not imply that these have been endorsed or recommended by FAO in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned.

All rights reserved. Reproduction and dissemination of material in this information product for educational or other non-commercial purposes are authorized without any prior written permission from the copyright holders provided the source is fully acknowledged. Reproduction of material in this information product for resale or other commercial purposes is prohibited without written permission of the copyright holders. Applications for such permission should be addressed to:

Electronic Publishing Policy and Support Branch
Communication Division - FAO
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153 Rome, Italy
or by e-mail to:


The retail sector is responsible for the sale of food and non-food items, for personal or household consumption, which require little or no additional step in the food value chain. Sometimes food stores have in-store bakeries, delicatessens, and meat packaging facilities and provide wide selections of ready-made food, not only for the end consumer but also for other shops, department stores, kiosks, hotels, and restaurants.

Food retailing accounts for approximately 40% of all retail sales worldwide but, with time, most traditional food retailers1 expand their businesses to include non-food retailing. This handbook focuses predominantly on food retailing and does not attempt to cover other major retail product categories, such as: home furniture and related household goods (about 10% of all sales); clothing and footwear (8–9%); leisure goods, health, and beauty products (approximately 7% each); or other non-food products. However, since the distinction between food and non-food retailing is becoming increasingly unclear due to the the information provided in this report applies to the entire retail trade sector unless the food retail sector is explicitly mentioned.

In contrast with the retail sector, wholesalers purchase large quantities of goods for further sale to processors or retailers and not to end consumers. Wholesale trade usually involves/requires the issuing of commercial invoices. In the formal retail sector, cash receipts issued at the counter are the only wholesale trade in their legislation. To protect traditional small retailers from the increased competition arising from modern retail networks, some countries have also established strict regulations regarding retail store locations, opening hours, the maximum number of working days per year (including during weekends), and other constraints. In countries with a mature retail sector, competition in a given area may be regulated by anti-trust or similar legislation.

© FAO 2009