Global retail companies (“supermarkets”) have an increasing influence on developing countries, through foreign investments and/or through the imposition of their private standards. The impact on developing countries and poverty is often assessed as negative. In this paper we show the opposite, based on an analysis of primary data collected to measure the impact of supermarkets on small contract farmers in Madagascar, one of the poorest countries in the world. Almost 10,000 farmers in the Highlands of Madagascar produce vegetables for supermarkets in Europe. In this global supply chain, small farmers’ micro-contracts are combined with extensive farm assistance and supervision programs to fulfill complex quality requirements and phyto-sanitary standards of supermarkets. Small farmers that participate in these contracts have higher welfare, more income stability and shorter lean periods. We also find significant effects on improved technology adoption, better resource management and spillovers on the productivity of the staple crop rice. The small but emerging modern retail sector in Madagascar does not (yet) deliver these benefits as they do not (yet) request the same
high standards for their supplies.