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The effects of price deregulation on maize marketing margins in South Africa


  • Traub, Lulama Ndibongo
  • Jayne, T.S.


There has been continuous controversy over the impact of food market reforms on food security in Africa. In South Africa, the government and media have often questioned the effects of price deregulation of maize meal, the major staple food, on consumers. This article determines the effect of retail price deregulation on the size of maize milling/retail margins in South Africa. Regression models of monthly milling/retail margins are run from the period May 1976 to December 2004. To assess the robustness of our findings, we estimate several different models of structural change, vary the sample period to examine the sensitivity of findings to unusual weather and market conditions in the region during episodes between 2001 and 2004, and run the models using different estimation techniques, OLS with Newey-West robust estimators and Feasible General Least Squares. In virtually all models, the results indicate that real maize milling/retailing margins in South Africa have increased by at least 20% since the deregulation of retail prices in 1991. Moreover, there is evidence of trend growth in the size of the milling margin over time. Simulations indicate that the deregulation of maize meal prices has entailed a transfer of at least US$179 million/year from consumers to agents in the marketing system. Further study is needed to understand why this outcome in South Africa differs from findings in other countries in the region concerning the effects of reform on food marketing margins.

Suggested Citation

  • Traub, Lulama Ndibongo & Jayne, T.S., 2008. "The effects of price deregulation on maize marketing margins in South Africa," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 224-236, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:33:y:2008:i:3:p:224-236

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. B. Wade Brorsen & Jean-Paul Chavas & Warren R. Grant & L. D. Schnake, 1985. "Marketing Margins and Price Uncertainty: The Case of the U.S. Wheat Market," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 67(3), pages 521-528.
    2. Jayne, Thomas S. & Takavarasha, T. & van Zyl, Johan, 1994. "Interactions Between Food Market Reform and Regional Trade in Zimbabwe and South Africa: Implications for Food Security," Food Security International Development Working Papers 54703, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    3. Jayne, T. S. & Jones, Stephen, 1997. "Food marketing and pricing policy in Eastern and Southern Africa: A survey," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(9), pages 1505-1527, September.
    4. Jayne, T. S. & Argwings-Kodhek, Gem, 1997. "Consumer response to maize market liberalization in urban Kenya," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 447-458, October.
    5. Tschirley, David & Donovan, Cynthia & Weber, Michael T., 1996. "Food aid and food markets: lessons from Mozambique," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 189-209, May.
    6. Wohlgenant, Michael K. & Mullen, John D., 1987. "Modeling The Farm-Retail Price Spread For Beef," Western Journal of Agricultural Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 12(02), December.
    7. Engle, Robert F & Lilien, David M & Robins, Russell P, 1987. "Estimating Time Varying Risk Premia in the Term Structure: The Arch-M Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 391-407, March.
    8. Delgado, Christopher L, 1992. "Why Domestic Food Prices Matter to Growth Strategy in Semi-open West African Agriculture," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 1(3), pages 446-471, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Baffes,John & Kshirsagar,Varun & Mitchell,Donald, 2015. "What drives local food prices ? evidence from the Tanzanian maize market," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7338, The World Bank.
    2. repec:eee:jfpoli:v:69:y:2017:i:c:p:218-230 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Tschirley, David L. & Jayne, Thomas S., 2008. "Food Crises and Food Markets: Implications for Emergency Response in Southern Africa," Food Security International Development Working Papers 54559, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    4. Tschirley, David L. & Jayne, T.S., 2010. "Exploring the Logic Behind Southern Africa's Food Crises," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 76-87, January.
    5. Anonymous, 2010. "Smallholder Marketing Behavior and Urban Consumption Patterns in Eastern and Southern Africa," Food Security Collaborative Policy Briefs 62155, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    6. Mabiso, Athur & Weatherspoon, Dave D., 2008. "Fuel and Food Tradeoffs: A Preliminary Analysis of South African Food Consumption Patterns," 2008 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2008, Orlando, Florida 6126, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    7. Syngjoo Choi & Andrea Galeotti & Sanjeev Goyal, 2014. "Trading in Networks: Theory and Experiments," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1457, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    8. Zulu-Mbata, Olipa & Jayne, Thomas S. & Kirsten, Johann F., 2016. "Analysis of farm-to-retail maize marketing margins in Zambia," 2016 AAAE Fifth International Conference, September 23-26, 2016, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 246966, African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE).

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