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9 hours ago

Caroline Skinner on "The informal sector deserves a legal boost"

On average, individual incomes of informal workers are very low, suggesting this work should not be seen as an alternative to formal employment. Cumulatively, however, these activities contribute between 5% and 7% to GDP.

The income from street and spaza shop trading, traditional medicine dispensing, hairdressing, small-scale construction and other activities sustains large families living in poorer parts of cities, towns and rural areas.

These very small economic players have largely fallen through the gaps in national government policy in the post-apartheid period.

Consider the National Development Plan. It projects that the informal sector will create between 1.2million and two million jobs, but it is silent on how existing livelihoods would be supported.

Two initiatives in the Department of Trade and Industry have the potential to shift the policy environment for the informal sector. The Draft Licensing of Businesses Bill, in its March 2013 iteration, would require any person involved in business activities -no matter how small — to have a licence.

Research suggests many informal operators, particularly street vendors, would welcome the recognition that licensing or registration might bring. However, the draft bill provides no incentive to obtain a licence, but punishments for not doing so are harsh — confiscation of goods, fines and imprisonment for up to 10 years.”

9 hours ago

Cauliflower Power | TravelWrite

The entire batch [of cauliflower] is delivered to a trader, client, or the Fresh Produce Market. Contract clients like Woolworths and Pick n Pay take 60 days to pay. Add that to the 6 months before the farmer gets his investment back from his initial outlay – without government assistance!

After buying, sorting, presenting and selling the supermarket get their investment back within three to four days of receiving the cauliflowers depending on how good their fresh produce manager is.

This year, I averaged R4 a head – I got my money back with no profit.’

1 day ago

Nervous supermarkets left with miles of aisles they don't want

""The reality is that the model of retailing for the last 60 years is no longer fit for the changing needs of consumers," says one senior industry source. "The question is: what are you doing to adapt your space to the new economics?""

2 days ago

Supermarkets forced to abandon plans for new stores as shopping habits shift

"Plans for 97 new stores have been abandoned or have stalled out of the 400 supermarkets approved by local authorities since 2009, Dispatches has found, with Tesco accounting for 60 of the 97 U-turns.

The figures follow a Guardian study published in June that revealed how Tesco has been hoarding land and buildings on 310 sites and covering an area big enough to build 15,000 homes. Last week the UK’s largest supermarket chain said it will begin making use of some of that undeveloped landbank, and announced plans to build 4,000 new homes.

A spokesman for Tesco said: “In response to changing customer shopping habits we have decided to reduce the amount of new space we build each year, building fewer large stores.”“

3 days ago

Up in the air: Citizen scientists map food dangers in Nairobi -IIED

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while. Excellent piece of work by IIED using innovative approaches to get around some tricky data gaps and fieldwork challenges. They are using aerial photographs generated by walking around this balloons with cameras on them.
“The project’s citizen scientists are mapping how close environmental hazards are to the area’s street vendors, a low-income group of mostly women who sell fresh produce and hot meals.

These vendors play an important part of the city’s food security – feeding thousands of people each day – but they cannot afford stalls or shops and so sit alongside sewers that can send waste perilously close to their goods when they overflow.”

3 days ago

Effect of Banting Diet phenomon on food retail

The story below speaks to the demographics of the Banting diet phenomenon in SA. None of it is very surprising, but it is interesting nonetheless. The story was originally in Business Day and republished here (see link -

“Retailers are tapping into the high-fat food phenomenon as the Tim Noakes diet hype grows, and restaurants serving pizzas, stodgy pastas and crusty sandwiches adapt.
Nuts, butter, cream, double thick yoghurt and coconut oil are more popular than ever. However, retailers are reluctant to say just how good sales are.

Zyda Rylands, Woolworths MD of Food, said: “It is very difficult to discern the impact of Banting, or any other diet, on our current food sales.

“We can, however, see a marginal increase in foods closely associated with the Banting diet” such as high-fat dairy products.

Trends over the past six months include good sales of cauliflower (a must-have ingredient for Noakes’s cauli-mash).

Nevertheless, there was still interest in lower-fat products, Rylands said.

In addition, for those who are not worrying about their weight, chocolates and sweets still sell well.

Alec Dunlop, general manager at high-end retailer Thrupps, said products such as almond butter, chai seed (a high-protein grain with Omega-3) and flax seed were very popular.

Sean Gomes, MD of Wellness Warehouse, said the launch of the Real Meal Revolution, which advocates eating more fat and far fewer carbohydrates, had inspired innovation and change in the health food industry.

“Where you would once only find nut butter [such as almond and macadamia] in jars, now you can get it in a squeeze pack for snacking.”

However, for some retailers, customers who are on Banting are a minority.

Sarita van Wyk, spokesperson for Shoprite Holdings, said, “We currently have 26 million individual customers who frequent our stores.” On a national basis, these “food diets do not really impact the mainstream shopper and are limited mainly to the well-heeled SA consumer”.

Nevertheless, for restaurants that rely on those with disposal incomes, catering for this new fad makes business sense.

Stephen and Eileen Cross, owners of Bread and Butter, a Cape Town eatery known for its sandwiches, noticed customers were trading sandwiches for salads. In February, they put up two specials boards of Banting-friendly meals, and business boomed. “We’ve never been quiet, but the results were remarkable,” he said. “It’s too big a movement not to incorporate it into our menu.”

Cross comments, Banting treats such as cheesecake, chocolate brownies, and a coconut and almond-flour loaf with nuts and honey sell like, well, hot cakes.

Ellie’s Deli @The Noordhoek Café has not sold pasta in three weeks. Owner Ellie Nield said that since introducing Banting onto the menu it has attracted new customers from as far as Somerset West and the Strand. “If I look across the restaurant right now, there are three tables eating Banting chocolate cake for breakfast.”

The Banting menu has helped the restaurant through the typically quiet Cape Town winter. In addition, while production costs have gone up, Nield says, “people are aware of what these things cost to make”.

Wayne Kaminsky of Fitchef, a company that sells prepared healthy meals, said it introduced Banting meals, but the diet’s popularity means cauliflower and coconut cream have been hard to find.

“We cannot get hold of a high-quality coconut cream at the moment.

“I used to pay R11 for a head of cauliflower, and now people are charging R25.”From DFM Publishers (Pty) Ltd “

5 days ago

Revealed: the dirty secret of the UK’s poultry industry

6 days ago

Self-regulation of junk food marketing largely ineffective

In other news: The Pope is Catholic.

1 week ago

Slabattoirs under scrutiny - Informal slaughter houses in Cape Town

The story below is on the IOL site at the moment. The SPCA is concerned about animal cruelty. This is a concern, but I am worried that we are falling back into regulation without enabling. Our work has repeatedly shown how important traders like these are to local food security and how they serve local tastes, prices and preferences. 

Back in 2008 IOL ran a similar story in which the former head of the Maitland abattoir, which the City shut down, said "unregistered slaughter houses were a health hazard and should be closed down.

"They are totally unacceptable. They operate with no health inspectors, no veterinary control and the animals are treated with cruelty."

He said they had the potential to cause an epidemic.

Carroll said that farmers often took their sickly or lower-quality stock to these informal slaughter houses if they knew they wouldn’t be passed at a legitimate abattoir.”“ 

At the time Ivan Toms, the then exec director for health,they were aware of the unregistered abattoirs and that at least two had been operating for more than 20 years.

He said his department, together with the department of agriculture, city land use and planning and the SPCA, were looking at coming up with a more “accommodating approach”.

"We won’t just close them down. We don’t want a draconian solution but we also won’t turn a blind eye."

Toms said they were working with the owners and educating them about what to do with things like blood and offal. He added that the facilities were in areas which had septic tanks so the blood didn’t go into the sewage system.” (Link)

This is the kind of thinking that is required. Acknowledge the role that these play in the food system, particularly in the absence of a formal abattoir (which is constitutionally a municipal responsibility), and find ways to ensure their safety and continued operation.

"Cape Town - Sithndathu Avenue may be its official name, but the Nyanga street has become popularly known as Ezigusheni (at the sheep’s) owing to its open-air slaughterhouse.

The livestock is brought from a Philippi farm to the makeshift market in trailers with their feet tied. Others are shoved in car boots.

At the market the sheep are put on the pavement, where “slabattoirs” - a term given to the local butchers - do the slaughtering.

On average about 15 sheep are slaughtered for each one of the 22 meat stalls where customers can buy raw or braai meat.

Stall owner Mildred Maqibi said she had been operating her meat-selling business for more than 23 years.

She said stall owners were trying to make ends meet but the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) was making it difficult for them.

“We are victims of the SPCA.”

A few months ago five of her sheep were confiscated by the organisation because the animals’ feet were tied together.

“I didn’t have a business for those days until they released the sheep back to me.”

Cape of Good Hope SPCA chief executive Allan Perrins said the SPCA was against the inhumane slaughter and treatment of the animals.

“We are particularly concerned about the lack of animal holding facilities and the fact that live animals are forced to witness animals being slaughtered. We are also concerned about the manner in which the animals are transported. The problem is far more complex than meets the eye as there are multiple roleplayers, starting with the farmer/seller.”

Perrins said street slabattoires were breaking the Animals Protection Act and the Meat Safety Act, as well as breaking various health and environment by-laws

”There is an obvious health risk associated with this unregulated practise. It would be desirable to regularise affairs and this may mean having to close down street-side slabattoirs.”

Mayoral committee member for health, Benedicta van Minnen, said the city’s health department and the Department of Agriculture were looking at using mobile abattoirs at Ezigusheni in Nyanga.

“While the feasibility study is being conducted, environmental health practitioners do routine health education sessions with the traders and slaughterers, as well as ensure basic hygiene standards are maintained.”

Maqibi said stall owners were open to hygiene suggestions.

“We are also not happy with the filth. We have been pleading with the government to renovate this place to a point that we are willing to pay rent, if need be.”

Maqibi’s stall slaughterer, Sivuyile Mahlati, said he feared losing his job.

“We want to keep this as clean as possible, but we also don’t want to lose our jobs.”

Slaughterers are paid R70 per sheep slaughtered.

To keep the skin clean and safe from insects, salt is thrown over it. Every Fridays the wool is collected by a man who buys it from the stall owners for clothing manufacturing.

Regular customer Kwezi Sonti said he enjoyed the fresh meat.

“I love this meat because it’s fresh and I witness its slaughtering. You see us cultural men, we love that.”

University of Cape Town
South Africa