Philip H. Howard
The food system consists of broad sectors that include production, processing and manufacturing, distribution, and retail. The retail sector is the part of this system that is closest to the consumer. Although processors/manufacturers were once quite powerful, exerting tremendous influence over retailers and consumers, this dynamic is shifting toward greater retailer power. The leading retailers make up a large and increasing percentage of sales for the largest food processors. Wal-Mart, for example, sells more than 10 percent of the products made by Dean Foods, General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft, Campbell's, Tyson, and Pepsi. This gives Wal-Mart the leverage to demand low wholesale prices, as well as exacting packaging and delivery requirements, from its suppliers. Leading retailers are also more effectively encouraging consumers to behave in ways that enhance their profits, using means such as store design and shelf placement. Their increasingly sophisticated marketing strategies also include discounts for customers who use ...