WUWM 28th Congress, Chile Declaration

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November 1, 2013
As a result of the 28th Congress of the World Union of Wholesale Markets (WUWM), which was held in Santiago, Chile, under the motto "Managing Good Practices in Fresh Produce Markets," more than 150 professionals from 28 different countries promote the following conclusions in summary of the technical discussions and presentations made:

Many of the governments of Latin American countries are currently investing in putting new wholesale markets into operation or to improving existing ones. The WUWM considers these to be appropriate initiatives and policies, coming at a suitable moment, and pursuing positive objectives. These wholesale markets are authentic instruments of food and commercial policy, which contribute to a healthy balance between different modes of distribution, to the preservation of traditional retail trade, and to guaranteeing certain living standards for the rural population, in view of their being an important channel for the distribution of their products. In all these ways, they contribute directly to the well-being of the population and to the economic health of their countries.

There is a steadily broadening consensus recognising that wholesale markets for fresh food offer producers an alternative vital and singular way to access consumer markets. In addition, wholesale markets improve the efficiency of the food network, favour the transparency of prices, and are important vehicles for promoting the consumption of healthful products.

The host of this WUWM event, the private wholesale market - Mercado Lo Valledor, based in Santiago de Chile, has been in business for 45 years. Mercado Lo Valledor plays an important economic and social role in this country. It brings to market 2,400,000 metric tons of fresh produce annually, products that pass through an efficient distribution network allowing them to reach a population of some 10 million inhabitants throughout Chile, generating direct and indirect employment in 600,000 jobs. Mercado Lo Valledor has actively participated in the configuration and development of the network for production and marketing of fresh produce, especially supporting small and mid-sized farms and merchants, in this way generating direct benefits for a large portion of the population of the country. Mercado Lo Valledor is recognised as the main produce marketer in the country, and one of the main ones in Latin America. Its role and importance have also been recognised by the Chilean political authorities, making it the point of reference in complex times, regularly offering fresh produce at prices in affordable for the whole population. 1/3…

We encourage the continuation of the relevant and highly valuable initiatives underway in Latin America to establish new markets or to improve those already in existence. These policies are also very relevant for urban retail markets with municipal ownership.

Nonetheless, along with many projects that are becoming a reality, many others, due to economic and financial difficulties, have to be postponed indefinitely, perpetuating inefficiencies in the distribution of basic foods. For this reason, the WUWM is calling for increases in financial support and for the recognition of the important role played by food markets in the supplying and distribution of food, not only in Latin America but throughout the world.

State support tends to be shown, at a minimum, in the following aspects:
a) Economic and financial support for the construction of the market or, subsequently, its modernisation, rehabilitation or relocation;
b) The approval of a legislative framework suitable for wholesale and retail commerce;
c) The establishment of management criteria for wholesale (and retail) markets and the setting of goals of public or general interest that need to be reached.

On these bases, markets should be administered (whether by public or private entities or by public-private partnerships) in such a way as to offer to local companies suitable physical, logistical and operational conditions.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) has in recent years included markets as an element of development deserving its institutional and financial assistance. With its support, the Montevideo Retail Market ("Central Agricultural Market") has been an excellent example of a successful case. The WUWM considers these types of multilateral institutional assistance, especially in their financial, technical and qualification aspects, to be key factors for many market projects. We encourage other world development institutions concerned about the price and quality of basic foods, about improving the living standards of the rural population, or about food safety, to keep in mind the importance of wholesale and retail markets and to offer them their support.

We recognize that there is a broad variety of models for the management of wholesale and retail markets: from those with wholly private ownership to those with wholly public ownership, as well as public-private partnerships. The WUWM does not value any one model over another. We want instead to emphasise the importance of the action of every group involved in markets -- whether they are national or municipal authorities, wholesalers or retailers -- being in convergence, in order to respond to the challenges now facing those carrying out the production and distribution of fresh food.
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WUWM urges decision-making authorities to recognise wholesale and retail markets as incubators of small and mid-sized companies. These markets are generators of growth and of jobs, offering a platform and economies of scale that help with the maintenance and growth of small and mid-sized family businesses. In addition, retail markets have proven to be true engines of regeneration of urban districts, in some cases converting them into tourist attractions, as is the case in Santiago de Chile.

Before the Year of Family Agriculture is marked in Chile, in 2014, we want to emphasise that food markets, wholesale and retail alike, tend to be points of sale for local and national production. In contrast, many multinational distribution networks prefer to import their products from other countries rather than purchasing them in the actual destination country and transporting them from rural areas of production to the urban centres. To counter this trend, farmers need state and municipal investments to interconnect production and consumption points: in other words, investment in wholesale markets at source and in wholesale markets at destination, that is, in large cities.

In closing, we take this opportunity to thank Mercado Lo Valledor for having hosted this 28th Congress of the WUWM, and give special thanks to the Chilean Minister of Agriculture, as well as the Directors of Mercado Lo Valledor for their decisive support for this event.

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