From survival to competition: informality in agrifood markets in countries under transition
In the context of rapid urbanisation, resource scarcity, and the need to assure food security and safety, it is necessary to look at the implications of informality in agrifood markets where the majority of people still produce and trade. This case study explores these implications through the lens of a country in transition. Peru is experiencing rapid economic growth and engaging in a formalisation process in a number of sectors. In the agrifood sector, this process can be seen at many points: from production, trade, processing, and retailing; from mechanisms for small-scale farmers to enter demanding modern markets; to the formalisation of Lima’s main wholesale market, La Parada. Despite its impressive economic growth, Peru remains among the six most informal economies in the world. Transiting from survival strategies to regulated competition is a highly contested process.~This transition reveals the economic and social schisms that governments face when reforming markets in countries where informality is still deeply rooted in the economy and behaviours and where formalisation, to succeed, has to deal with real inclusion. The study, which forms part of a new body of research at IIED on informality in agrifood trade, aims to share ideas on the implications of formalisation policies, to invite discussion, and to highlight some promising pathways for more~in-depth research.