The government wants to get the products of small farmers and manufacturers on the shelves of Ecuador’s largest supermarkets. To achieve the goal, Ecuador’s Superintendency of Market Control hosts monthly meetings in Cuenca and other Ecuadorian cities to bring representatives of Supermaxi, Coral, Comisariato and other supermarket chains, together with small business owners.
Government rules, adopted in 2013, mandate that 15% of products in supermarkets be produced by small businesses and during the monthly meetings, managers of several farmer coops brought their products to reps from supermarket chains. According to government rules, the supermarkets can accept or reject products based on packaging, delivery service and pricing.
Besides the farmers, the 15% rule is attracting a range of small businesses that produce everything from bottled drinks, including juices, soft drinks, and liquor, to artisanal chocolates. “The purpose of the program is to help small businesses, including farmers, compete with large national and international companies,” says Carlos Almeida, regional director of Market Power office. “We want to create a level playing field for all producers.”
The 2013 rules also govern how supermarkets can display items for sale. “Where an item is placed on the shelves or produce cooler can affect the amount of sales,” Almeida says. “If a product is at eye level it has a higher sales rate and traditionally, large companies have paid supermarkets for the best positions. We want to make sure the little producers get good exposure too,” he added.
“The products have to be competitively priced and meet the government health, labeling and packaging requirements,” says Santiago Santos, regional manager Favorita Corporation, parent company of Supermaxi and SuperAki. “We are happy to buy products from small producers and but the products have to meet government requirements and well as our own.”
Personnel from the Superintendency of Market Power Control provide assistance to buyers and sellers during the negotiation process, in necessary.
Almeida says it is the job of his office to make sure stores are buying 15% of their products from small vendors, if the products are available. “We work with stores too, since we understand their need for on-time delivery, good pricing and accurate packaging.”