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Policy Brief, Spring 2007, Volume 1/Number 3

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Press Release

For Immediate Release: February 14, 2007

Contact: Anuradha Mittal, (510) 469-5228; [email protected]

Katy Mamen (707) 874-1317; [email protected]

Retail Consolidation Threatens U.S. Food Security

New Policy Brief from the Oakland Institute Reveals that Consolidated Control of Food Leads to Declining Food Security, Economic Health and Labor Standards

Policy Brief: Facing Goliath

(Oakland, CA)— A new Policy Brief from the Oakland Institute, Facing Goliath: Challenging the Impacts of Retail Consolidation on our Local Economies, Communities, and Food Security exposes how corporate consolidation in food retail has put our access to a reliable supply of healthy and affordable food at risk.

“The top five food retailers, which now control more than half of all grocery sales in the country, have gained unprecedented market power,” said Katy Mamen, Oakland Institute Fellow and author of the Policy Brief. “As a result, cost savings garnered through increased bargaining power are generally not being passed on to the consumer, supermarkets are abandoning low-income communities where profit margins are lower, and labor standards are being forced down.”

The shift from small and medium scale food stores to big box stores brings broader economic turmoil for many communities. When a retail mega-store enters a community, independent shops that serve the local community are often forced to close. New Wal-Mart stores in a community have been associated with increased poverty levels and a decline in locally owned and operated businesses. “In the U.S., the independent business owner is held in high regard – but small businesses throughout the food supply chain, from farmers to processors to grocers are being forced out as consolidation continues, undermining the American Dream,” said Mamen.

The Policy Brief teases out the architecture of change in the food supply chain, outlines some of the key impacts on local communities, and suggests strategies for bringing balance back to the food retail landscape, including:

• Developing successful and innovative regional distribution and retail models;

• Re-creating real retail diversity that includes both locally-owned outlets that source a majority of their products locally and products that are direct marketed by producers;

• Fostering locally-owned and operated retail outlets in low-income communities;

• Working to balance the public subsidy and support system, which currently disproportionately favors large supermarket chains over independent markets;

• Raising public awareness about the social, economic and environmental benefits of locally owned and operated grocery stores.

Facing Goliath: Challenging the Impacts of Retail Consolidation on our Local Economies, Communities, and Food Security is a publication of the Oakland Institute, a think tank for research, analysis, and action whose mission is to increase public participation and promote fair debate on critical social, economic, and environmental justice issues.

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Download a copy of the policy brief, click here

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