Centre d'investissement de la FAO

Case studies to reveal investment opportunities for wholesale food markets in the 21st century

28/04/2021

Wholesale food markets are vital entry points to food supply chains around the world and benefit all stakeholders in the food system including producers, processors, transporters, retailers and consumers. 

Wholesale markets are logistics hubs that coordinate the distribution of safe, fresh and nutritious food. They can range from traditional producer markets to more modern and multi-functional facilities.

When a wholesale market functions well, the benefits have far-reaching effects for the food system and its stakeholders. On the other hand, when a wholesale market does not function well, it can constrain the development of a food system.

To better understand the challenges and opportunities of facing wholesale food markets the FAO Investment Centre is embarking on a study which will span 35 markets in over 30 countries and look at markets ranging from traditional producer markets to more modern, multi-functional facilities, including input from a select group of wholesale food market professionals.

The study, “Upgrading wholesale food markets for food system resilience in the 21st century”, will be a collaborative effort with the World Union of Wholesale Markets (WUWM) and extend across several FAO units, and with our partners at the World Bank, EBRD, ADB, AfDB, among others.

The case studies are intended to inform officers from International Financing Institutions, municipal and country officials and market officials and will be presented at the Food Systems Summit in September 2021. It will be of interest to people who are involved in urban planning and the development and others interested in agri-food markets.

By presenting distinct perspectives and new approaches to topic such as infrastructure development, governance and policy planning and implementation, it is hoped that the findings provide a pathway for better investments and clear policy guidelines. Together the findings can be used to upgrade and modernize wholesale food markets, making them more sustainable and resilient. 

A small but growing number of countries and cities around the world have already invested in the upgrade, modernization, relocation or construction of new wholesale food markets.

Cities and market managers have made numerous innovations in market infrastructure and operations to improve efficiency, safety and competitiveness. Innovations include the use of digital technologies and e-commerce, novel strategies for mitigation of food loss and waste, improving food safety and net-zero features for energy, water and waste. 

The study will be pragmatic and driven by evidence, existing institutional knowledge and practical experiences, with the aim to make wholesale food market development relevant and approachable from multiple sectors and food systems’ entry points.

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