The locational analysis of food retail outlets in Nairobi city, Kenya
Since its inception, the Nairobi population growth rate has been high, between 6% and 8% per annum. By the years 1985 and 2000, the City population is expected to reach a mark of one and two million inhabitants respectively. Most of the foodstuffs in Kenya are handled, marketed and some distributed by parastatal bodies like Kenya Meat Commission, the Horticultural Cooperative Union, Kenya Creameries Cooperative, and Maize Produce and Marketing Board. Though these boards hold exclusive responsibility of distributing food products mainly in Urban areas, Nairobi consumers complain about food shortages, poor quality food products, and high prices. There is scant information about food marketing system in Nairobi. The little that there is,is based on horticultural products at the only Wakulima Wholesale !~arketwhich handles 58% of the fruit and vegetables consumed each year. There is virtually no information on the food retail sector. Unfortunately, the neglected retail sector is part of the overall food marketing chain which could hamper the economic development of any c6untry if not properly developed. This study endeavours to reveal the locational food marketing system in the city. To fulfil this objective, field studies were carried out between April and June 1977 covering 21 City locations. Personal interviews were conducted with a sample of food retailers at three operational levels and consumers. Secondary data on nine identified retail outlet types depicting their distribution and densities in various socio-economic locations and zones as of 1976/77 were compiled and their development into 1985 projected. The outline account of the outlet registration procedures, marketing system and channels is given. To determine the various retailers' procurement activities and costs, their sources of food supply, frequencies of food purchase, modes of transport and transport costs are dealt with in depth. The same parameters above are utilized to determine consumers' procurement activities and costs. Retailers' margins and consumers' monthly food expenditures are analysed. In additio~ information on retailers' and consumers' constraints, complaints and assistance required is noted. After the analysis of both primary and secondary data, the general consensus reveals that the Nairobi food retail marketing syste~ is inefficient. The system lacks vertical and horizontal ~oordination which has led to unnecessarily high procurement costs to both retailers and consumers especially in low-income locations. About 60% of the Nairobi population resides in low-income areas and are served by numerous small scale traditional outlets operating in poor sanitary conditions. Their frequent low volume food purchases have led to increased procurement costs,high food prices, hindered improvement in food qualities and expansion of retail premises. The ambulatory vendors who significantly play a great role in conveying foodstuffs to most Nairobi consumers are stumbling blocks to any efforts to improve food qualities. Through established modern public retail markets, the City food retail outlet planners seem to have failed to take in consideration the locational population growth rates as demonstrated by the heavy infiltration of ambulatory vendors in old estates. The established modern retail markets have failed as sources of foodstuffs to consumers due to poor structural plans of the markets and lack of an effective method to control the unscruplous ambulatory vendors. Generally consumers find their residential outlets inconvinient, inadequate regarding product ranges offered and food prices high. The study concludes that the development of improved retail markets and provision of external aid to small scale operators (i.e. kiosk-retailers and ambulatory vendors) in most low-income locations should have top-priority. Establishment of wholesale/retail outlet units in City outskirts should be encouraged if the retail vertical and horizontal coordination is to be boosted.