Global Food Studies researcher Craig Johns presented his work on “Food industry in Fiji” at GFS Discussion Series on 15 October 2014. His work was part of the ‘Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development Initiative’ funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).
In addition to Craig Johns, three other Global Food Studies researchers Mr Theo Simos, Associate Professor Wendy Umberger and Professor Randy Stringer as well as our PhD student Ms Anna Finizio have also been involved in PARDI. The University of Adelaide’s role in the project is to provide market and consumer research to drive innovation and industry development right along the chain including value adding processing and smallholder farmer production.
In his presentation, Craig explained that modern retail outlets are expanding globally and consumers are purchasing a wider range of food products.
However, Fiji is unique.
It is smaller, slower growing with very limited foreign investment in food retailing. Very little detailed analysis of Fijian retailer and consumer behaviours have been conducted. Furthermore most of the existing studies cover aspects around tourists rather than local consumer behaviours.
On the other hand, retail transformation can have potential impacts on livelihoods. About 65% of the population are involved in agriculture and the sector contributes to 13% of the total GDP. Between 2002 and 2008 , rural population decreased by 2% while urban population increased by 16%. This increased in urban population share is also accompanied by increase in average urban income by 51% (in nominal) or 19% in real terms. One major challenge is that smallholder farmers cannot always fulfill the extra demands of supermarkets and can get excluded from these market channels.
It is therefore important to verify that urban Fjian consumers are changing their food consumption and shopping patterns and understand the drivers of this change. One key question is: how are changes in consumer preference and shopping patterns and modern retailing affecting the Fijian horticulture industry including the roles of key stakeholders including smallholder producers?
The project conducted a survey of 1000 households across Suva and Nadi. The survey involved 27 trained enumerators; covered 79 different food categories and 8 retail outlet types. It asked questions about shopping behaviour, food consumption, outlet preferences, food choices, food concerns and household expenditure.
Early descriptive results suggest in terms of urban food consumption retail outlets, supermarkets are up to 50% whilst the main (traditional) market is 39%. Furthermore, it seems that supermarkets favour processed food while the main market favoured fresh produce.
To get more insights into the food value chains in Fiji, the project also conducted a survey to 600 local producers; mainly concentrated in the Sigatoka valley -Anna. In addition, the project starts some initiatives to better link smallholders and the hospitality industry.
For information, please contact Mr Craig Johns (craig.johns[at]adelaide.edu.au) or visit the PARDI homepage at the GFS website, here.