Venezuela flag Venezuela: Buying and Selling

The distribution network in Venezuela

Evolution of the Sector
An ongoing, severe economic crisis in Venezuela has led to three years of consecutive, double digit economic contraction and contributed to falling foreign agricultural product exports to Venezuela, down 42% in CY 2017 (January through October) to $376 million compared to the same time period a year before (GATS). Agricultural product importers are severely challenged by a Venezuelan economy in crisis with hyperinflation and extreme Venezuelan Central Bank restrictions to accessing foreign currency. Even though no official figures from the Central Bank are available, 2017 end-of-year estimates of inflation reached 720% according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Venezuela’s retail food sector is serviced by both the public and private sectors. However, the system for the Government to distribute retail food products is winding down from the closure of the public operated Mercado de Alimentos C.A. (Spanish acronym: MERCAL) that includes the retail chain Abastos Bicentenario.

The Venezuelan private sector retailers include Central Madeirense, Excelsior Gama, Plazas, Sigo, Makro, Flor, Frontera, Unicasa, Luvebras, El Patio and Garzon. Most of the major domestic supermarket chains belong to the Venezuelan National Supermarket Association (Spanish acronym: ANSA). In 2017, there were about 6 363 supermarkets, or points of sale, in Venezuela selling foods and beverages. In addition, there are 136 906 traditional abastos or bodegas, similar to corner stores. Corner stores dominate retail sales in the predominantly middle and low-income neighborhoods throughout Venezuelan cities and towns. Pharmacies that offer foods and beverages had also been growing rapidly in the last decade. The store layouts now include aisles dedicated to food and beverages. The four major pharmacies are SAAS (208 stores in 2016), Farmatodo (170 stores), Farmahorro (114 stores) and Locatel (66 stores). These pharmacies are members of ANSA.

Since January 2003, the GBRV has imposed price control policies on basic foodstuffs and processed food products. The Ministry of Agriculture and Lands (Spanish acronym: MAT), Ministry of Food (Spanish acronym: MINPAL), Ministry of Commerce (Spanish acronym: MINCOMERCIO), and the Ministry of Finance (Spanish acronym: MINFINANZAS) are responsible for recommending changes to the controlled-price list.

Market share
Venezuela's mass retail network consists of the following:

  • 333 hypermarkets and supermarkets that are part of chain stores
  • 6,030 independent supermarkets
  • 8,312 pharmacies
  • 12,460 beverage retailers
  • 136,906 neighborhood grocery stores

The main chains are Makro (35 stores) and San Diego (19 stores) in the hypermarket field as well as Central Madeirense (57 stores) and Excelsior Gamma (26 stores) for super and hypermarkets.

(Source: ANSA, 2019 - latest data available)

Retail Sector Organisations
Ministry of Economy
Chamber of Commerce of Caracas

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Latest Update: May 2024