With South Africa’s urban population approaching 60%, supermarkets and fast food
chains have become important players in the South African food system. These large
players in the food sector have systematically modified their procurement practices especially with regard to fresh fruit and vegetables and are now circumventing spot markets in favour of sourcing via in-house sourcing companies who mainly procure from preferred supplier producers. This paper draws extensively from a global research programme which seeks to highlight the market changes that potentially contribute to continued exclusion of the small producers from mass consumer markets. This paper illustrates, through a series of case studies, how integration of small-scale farmers into
the urban retail market can be facilitated and how the challenges posed by the
changing food system could possibly be overcome. The case studies illustrate various
initiatives through which small-scale farmers and agribusinesses can be integrated
into mainstream agri-food systems and may be used as models for an innovative approach to include small-scale farmers while still maintaining profitable business operations. They highlight the need for a multi actor approach for the successful participation of smallholder farmers in rder to allow them to join the supply chain at any point within the channel.