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Food Production Systems, Trade, and Transnational Corporations: - page 13 / 29





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livestock. Chinese firms are emulating foreign business practices. Following the path of developed countries, hog and poultry plants in China have become more concentrated, and large specialized household operations and large commercial operations are expanding (Tuan et al. 2007). China is reorienting its agricultural system to cultivate products they can export, such as horticultural goods, rather than meeting the domestic demand for food, thus sparking higher local prices for vegetables and potential grain shortages (Tuan et al. 2007). All of these factors affect the availability and price of healthy food options in Chinese cities and rural communities. According to Pingali (2006: 281), these globalization trends in China will stimulate a “diet transition characterized by increased consumption of wheat, temperate fruit and vegetables, and high protein and energy-dense food.”

The Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago show how an entire country’s food supply can be dependent upon imports. Yet Trinidad and Tobago’s domestic manufacturers still play a key role in the foods available on the islands, further demonstrating the interaction effect between global and local food systems. Trinidad and Tobago is a net food importer. They have a high overall level of import dependence, reaching 100 percent for products like corn oil, infant food, wheat, potatoes, many fruits and vegetables, chocolate products, tea, black pepper, milk, and cheese (Lovendal et al. 2007). The United States is the largest supplier for Trinidad and Tobago’s imports of meat, dairy, fresh vegetables and fruit, cereals, fats, and grains (Logan 2006). The imported products go directly to retail outlets or they are inputs for local manufacturing facilities.

The agro-processing sector accounts for almost half of Trinidad and Tobago’s manufacturing gross domestic product and it is a large contributor to non-oil exports (Lovendal et al. 2007). Most of their trade goes to other Caribbean Community countries, with Trinidad and Tobago being the lead exporter within the region. According to Logan (2006), the structure of the food processing industry within the Eastern Caribbean region is categorized in five groupings: transnational firms, large, medium, and small-scale domestic firms, and micro-sized enterprises. Although Nestlé Trinidad and Tobago Ltd. is the largest food-processing company in the country, the domestic market for food is dominated by large local firms, such as Erin Farms Ltd., Hummingbird Rice Mills, and Willie’s Homemade Ice cream. However, reliance on imported intermediates for food products is high: only 20 percent of inputs that go into local manufacturing facilities are procured domestically, while 80 percent come through imports.


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