Tesco has announced it is to move into an area of Los Angeles that has been dubbed a "food desert" since the infamous riots there in 1992.

A Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is to open in south LA by the end of the year as Tesco's plans to open 50 US stores by 2008 gather pace.

The area had a net gain of just one supermarket in the decade that followed the riots, sparked after a jury acquitted four white police officers accused of beating Rodney King, a young black man.

"There's never been a large grocery chain willing to invest in areas such as south Los Angeles and the small independent grocers are perceived as taking advantage by charging higher prices," said Cliff Goldstein, of retail property developer JH Snyder.

"By bringing its buying power to these areas, Tesco will help revitalise these communities. There is also a good chance it will make more money than you could imagine. While incomes are not that high, everyone has to eat and people are currently driving six slow miles through the city to get to a store. Put that buying power together and it can rival that of any other catchment area."

Goldstein is a member of the Commission on the Los Angeles Grocery Indus­try and Community Health, which in March said ­residents of minority and low-income communities were being treated as second-class citizens by being denied access to quality stores.

Tesco said one of its goals was to make high-quality food accessible and affordable to all neighbourhoods. Bringing healthy produce to "food deserts" would have wider benefits, said Amanda Shaffer, author of a 2002 report, 'The Persistence of LA's Grocery Gap'.

"People suffering from diet-related illnesses because they don't have a healthy diet affects everyone's taxes and health care costs," she said.

"I think that's why Tesco has had a warm welcome."