Document Type

Honors Project - Open Access


The rapid rise in supermarkets in developing countries over the last few decades has resulted in the radical transformation of food retail systems. In the city of Cape Town, the introduction of supermarkets has coincided with rapid urbanization and increasing levels of food insecurity. In the context of a neoliberal approach toward economic development and redistribution, regulatory policies have largely ignored urban problems of food insecurity; therefore, retail modernization has become a largely unregulated market-based solution to improving food access for the poor. However, the introduction of formal food retail formats is often seen as conflicting with the informal food economies established in lower-income neighborhoods of this metropolitan area. Through a mixed-methods approach, this paper assesses the spatial distribution of supermarkets within Cape Town and whether this geography of food retail combats or perpetuates food insecurity, particularly in lower-income neighborhoods. Spatial analysis using Geographic Information Systems at a city-wide scale is combined with a qualitative case study utilizing semi-structured interviews and observational analysis in a township neighborhood in order to develop a more complete understanding of the role of supermarkets in complex, hybridizing urban food environments.



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