The World Union of Wholesale Markets (WUWM) has welcomed the investment being made by Latin American governments in the region’s wholesale markets but said more needed to be done to further strengthen the sector. In its closing remarks at the 28th WUWM congress, held last week in Santiago, the association praised the “relevant and highly valuable initiatives” underway to establish new markets or to improve existing ones.
Highlighting the role markets played in offsetting the power of the supermarkets and improving the lives of rural populations by providing an important channel for the distribution of their products, the WUWM called for more financial support from government and financial institutions. “There is a steadily broadening consensus recognising that wholesale markets for fresh food offer producers an alternative vital and singular way to access consumer markets. In addition, wholesale markets improve the efficiency of the food network, favour the transparency of prices and are important vehicles for promoting the consumption of healthful products,” the WUWM said.
The association pointed to the important economic and social role played by Santiago’s Mercado Lo Valledor, which played host to this year’s congress. The market – one of the biggest in Latin America – handles 2.4m tonnes of fresh produce a year, serving 10m inhabitants and generating direct and indirect employment for 600,000 people.
The WUWM urged decision makers to recognise wholesale and retail markets as incubators of small and mid-sized companies. “These markets are generators of growth and of jobs, offering a platform and economies of scale that help with the maintenance and growth of small and mid-sized family businesses,” it said. “In addition, retail markets have proven to be true engines of regeneration of urban districts, in some cases converting them into tourist attractions, as is the case in Santiago de Chile.”