Since 2003, the Venezuelan state has created over 22,000 establishments nationwide as part of its food distribution network, including the low-cost grocery stores Mercal, Pdval, and Abastos Bicentenarios, as well as storage warehouses and refrigeration centers.
This news was announced by Food Minister Carlos Osorio, who said the efforts are aimed at guaranteeing access to basic foods among the entire population at accessible prices, elevating the quality of life of Venezuelans who under prior governments had deficient nutrition.
He recalled that the State began to develop and strengthen its food infrastructure between November 2002 and January 2003, because big businesses associated with the right-wing had paralyzed the food production business and closed supermarkets in order to destabilize the country.
So far, the government has opened 267 Arepera Venezuela restaurants, which sell the traditional arepas, lunches, and drinks at very low costs.
“There are also popular cafeterias and Casas de Alimentación [soup kitchens]. A whole infrastructure we have developed in the last nine years that was born in 2003 with Mercal, Pdval, and then Abastos Bicentenarios. We have a distribution network that is helping strengthen food security,” Osorio said.
Legal norms such as the Law on Food Security and Sovereignty, Osorio said, have helped consolidate primary production as well as agro-industrial processing, storage, distribution and sales.
“The Food Ministry has 70 processing plants for precooked corn flour, balanced foods, milk production plants which generate 36,000 liters per month, oil processing plants, to satisfy the nutritional needs of the people instead of profit,” Osorio said.
Food for Everyone
Osorio said the number of people who have accessed food distribution sites established by the government has increased considerably in recent years due to the quality, supplies and prices of the goods offered there.
During 2011, the Mercal grocery stores were accessed by 10.9 million Venezuelans, while 1.4 million visited Pdval stores and 2 million visited Abastos Bicentenarios.
Meanwhile, in the first six months of this year, 12.5 million shopped at Mercal, 2.3 million shopped at Pdval, and 1.5 million at Abastos Bicentenarios.
Osorio also referred to the fourth National Survey on Familiy Budgets for the year 2008 to 2009, which found that food is not a problem for the majority of Venezuelans, with 80 percent having Access to three meals a day, while another 16.2 percent had four meals a day. In total, 96.2 percent had at least three meals a day.
The study was carried out by the Central Bank of Venezuela, the National Institute of Statistics, the University of the Andes and the Guyana Corporation of Venezuela.