Cargills Food City turns 38
The story of Cargills Food City is one of creating markets for farmers and small entrepreneurs, while offering customers higher value for the lowest price. Starting operations in 1983during an era where supermarkets catered to the elite, Food City has changed this phenomenon by making modern trade accessible to all.
Since its inception, the mission of Food City has been to reduce cost of living for consumers. Significant investments have been made to achieve this goal and the company currently operates 471 outlets, serving all 25 districts in Sri Lanka. The first outlet was opened at Staples Street Colombo in 1983, the 100thoutlet in Mannar in 2007, 200th in Kurunegala in 2013, 300th in Jaffna in 2016, and 400th in Wattala in 2019.
Cargills has expanded its retail chain to include three different formats- Food City supermarkets, Cargills Express convenience stores, and the Cargills Food hall gourmet store.
The company also launched its e-commerce operation Cargills Online in 2020 to cater to growing online demand. Today, Food City has become a household name, trusted for quality, availability, convenience, and the best prices across Sri Lanka. Food City’s assurance of the lowest price has become the benchmark for pricing in the country.
A visit by company officials to Hanguranketha in 1999 to listen to the challenges faced by the farming community moved the retail chain to forge direct links between local farmers and its supermarkets. Since then, Cargills Food City has developed a farmer out grower program with extension services, which have made it the single largest collector of fruits and vegetables in Sri Lanka today, sourcing farm fresh produce from a network of 11 collection centers spread across the country, which are delivered to its outlets within 24 hours.
Over 2% of the national production of fruits and vegetables are sold through its supermarkets. Cargills collects over 120 metric tons of fresh produce every day.
In addition to creating a marketplace for farmers, the company has made considerable investments to improve agriculture production. Through its agriculture modernization project, Cargills FoodCity promotes good farming practices which produce higher yields and higher incomes for farmers and a cleaner, more nutritious harvest.
The company invests in providing training programs for farmers, including providing them with exposure to international agricultural best practice through overseas visits. One key outcome of the agri-modernisation project is the ‘Good Harvest’ branded fresh produce sold at Food City outlets, which are grown based on globally accepted standards by farmers who have obtained the GAP (Good Agriculture Practices) certification. Food City also makes 100% agrochemical free fresh produce available to consumers through its ‘Bee Safe’ branded vegetables.
Cargills also supports the families of the farming communities through a fund which provides laptops and educational scholarships to farmer children, while providing a credit insurance scheme for farmers to protect them against crop failure.
The retail chain supports regional development in different parts of the country through continuous investments in creating more markets, thereby increasing demand and supporting the livelihoods of local farmers and entrepreneurs. It is also an important employment generator for the local youth, who receive access to internationally recognized certifications and training programs offered through the Cargills training academy, known as the Albert A. Page Institute.
Backed by the support and contribution of all stake holders, the company aims to widen its reach and engage closely with customers, while delivering customers with better nutrition and value for money.