Staple Food Consumption Patterns in Urban Zambia: Results from the 2007/2008 Urban Consumption Survey
• The Zambia Urban Consumption Survey, a survey of 1,865 urban households in Lusaka, Kitwe, Mansa, and Kasama, was conducted in August 2007 and February 2008 by the Central Statistical Office in collaboration with the Zambia Food Security Research Project. • Survey results indicate that in Lusaka and Kitwe, wheat has overtaken maize as the most important staple in terms of urban consumer expenditures. Maize is no longer the dominant staple food in urban Zambia, except among the poor. This finding is consistent with broader regional trends toward declining dependence on maize for urban staple food needs. • Hammer-milling services are readily available to the vast majority of urban households and in most cases their cheapest maize meal option is to obtain maize grain and have it custom-milled for a fee. However, maize grain is not consistently available in public markets during the lean season (December-March). GRZ could promote urban food security by ensuring that maize grain is available in public markets at all times. • In Kasama and Mansa, and particularly among relatively poor households, cassava is an important consumption item and serves as a buffer against high maize prices and poor maize grain availability during the lean season. • Supermarkets have only 5-17% of the market share for staple foods and are frequented mainly by wealthier households. Urban consumers are heavily dependent upon non-supermarket, informal retail outlets such as public markets and grocers for their staple food purchases. Policies and public investments to support these traditional retailers, help them operate more efficiently, and reduce the transaction costs they face may have higher payoffs for most urban consumers as well as smallholder farmers than policies presupposing the rapid takeover of supermarkets and other more formal retail channels.
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