Sants Food Market, Barcelona, Spain


In 2009, after decades of intense use and poor maintenance of the building, the Barcelona Municipal Market Institute (IMMB), the organization responsible for the direct administration of Barcelona’s municipal markets, announced the renovation of the building and indoor facilities. The purpose of the refurbishment was to adapt the market to the new services demanded by its users: new and bigger stalls with more product variety, air conditioning, bigger aisles, customer parking, a workshop for stallholders and improved storage.


The project was structured as a public-private partnership (PPP), in which a private supermarket chain partially funded the refurbishment of the infrastructure by paying stall opening rights to the IMMB, the owner of the market facilities. In exchange for the payments plus monthly rental fees, the supermarket company would be able to operate a stall inside the market facilities for up to 50 years. The supermarket chain would benefit from the food market attractiveness to customers, modern facilities and high visitor turnover. Additionally, the supermarket’s location inside the food market would help attract more customers to the food market itself.

SDG Impact:

SDG 3:   Good health and well-being: The Sants Food Market operator secures the availability of high-quality fresh food products and fosters good health habits through healthy food educational activities in the market facilities improving society well-being.

SDG 8:   Decent work and economic growth: Markets in a Barcelona are the centre of neighbourhoods’ economic and cultural activity. Around markets it is possible to find specialized shops that employ dozens of people providing stable jobs to area residents.

SDG 11:   Sustainable cities and communities. The decentralization of cities is critical maintain the cultural capital of the city neighborhoods, keep a lively commercial activity, and to reduce the use of vehicles and the reduction on transport services of CO2 emissions. Markets in the city of Barcelona play a central role in the economic activity decentralization process.

SDG 12:   Responsible consumption and production: Food markets in Barcelona offer strict quality control standards and detailed food tracing systems able to certify the origin of all products sold on them. Moreover, they also promote local produced food products and healthy food consumption habits.

SDG 17:   Partnerships for the goals. The publicly owned food markets are operated jointly by public and private firms. The public and the private sector cooperate to develop neighborhood economic activity and foster local jobs.

Compliance with UNECE People-first PPP criteria:

With the newly refurbished market and new supermarket chain store the district of Sants improved the public infrastructure stock in the district and fostered economic activity.

The project:

  • Upgraded public infrastructure stock
  • Increased job opportunities in the neighbourhood: in the food market stalls, in the supermarket chain store, and the shops around the market facilities
  • Transferred risk part of the operational risk from the public sector to private sector
  • Fostered health food consumption habits
  • Improved city sustainability by decentralizing economic areas

More information


This case study aspires to be People-first Public-Private Partnerships project and is published as received from the proponents.