Hungry Cities Partnership

Document Type

Hungry Cities Report

Publication Date



Balsillie School of International Affairs


This report should be read in conjunction with previous work on the food system in Kingston by the Hungry Cities Partnership. HCP No. 4, The Urban Food System of Kingston, Jamaica provides a comprehensive overview of the nature and operation of Kingston’s food system and the current state of knowledge about the informal food sector (Thomas-Hope et al 2017). It demonstrates the importance of the informal sector and city markets as a source of affordable food and employment. HCP No. 15, The State of Household Food Security in Kingston, Jamaica (Kinlocke et al 2019) presents the results of a city-wide household food security survey and provides convincing evidence of the widespread reliance of lowerincome households on the informal food sector for income and as the major source of food consumed in the household. Against this backdrop, this report examines the informal food sector in Kingston through an analysis of data from a large-scale survey of food vendors.

Much of the public and academic discourse on food vendors in the city of Kingston consists of anecdotal accounts that do not specifically characterize this subset of the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) sector. Despite their important function in the urban economy, small-scale informal enterprises in the food system have been largely overlooked by policy and legislative frameworks, which generally fail to identify them as a focal point for attention (Kinlocke and Thomas-Hope 2019). The characterization of these vendors is a highly relevant starting point for the development of interventions that seek to reduce vulnerabilities emerging from structural vagaries, marginalization in the face of urban renewal programs, and limited access to necessary facilities and services. This report therefore presents an evidence-based analysis of vendors in the city of Kingston in relation to their socio-demographic, economic, and spatio-temporal characteristics.