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So long, superstores?

September 4, 2023

For decades, large supermarket chains dominated the global food market. But bitter price wars and the growing influence of large digital corporations like Amazon and Alibaba are plunging the sector into crisis.


There’s been little to challenge the dominance of large supermarkets since the 1960s. But in recent years, the big chains have found themselves in trouble. Competition between corporations is fierce. They employ increasingly aggressive methods of negotiation -- at the expense of suppliers, agriculture and manufacturing - and often infringe on European regulations in the process. But the commercial battle isn’t just taking place between the supermarkets themselves: the huge success of digital corporate giants such as Amazon and Alibaba has meant traditional supermarkets are now having to assert themselves against new actors, who are themselves making exponential investments in the food sector. In the United States, Amazon has opened its own supermarket chain to supplant its business rivals Walmart and Target and capture the American groceries market. In China, Alibaba and JD.com are investing in various areas of the food supply chain. They’re opening their own poultry, fruit and vegetable farms, and replacing human labor with AI-controlled machines. What impact is this kind of commercial revolution having on working conditions, food quality and the future of our planet? Featuring rare documents and witness statements, the documentary takes a look behind the scenes of these temples to consumerism.

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Exciting stories, a wide variety of topics, fascinating pictures: every day, half or three-quarters of an hour of carefully researched background reports from the worlds of politics, business, science, culture, nature, history, lifestyle and sport.