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Food Production Systems, Trade, and Transnational Corporations: - page 6 / 29





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that involve some "explicit coordination" beyond simple market transactions, but which fall short of vertical integration (“hierarchies”). Researchers are also addressing the increased complexity of global value chains by showing how an industry can have multiple governance structures over time and across varying segments of the chain (Dolan and Humphrey 2004; Gereffi et al 2005; Sturgeon forthcoming).

Lastly, the coordination, power, and linkages of global value chains would not be complete without an analysis of the governments, unions, trade associations, NGOs, multilateral agencies, and regulatory bodies – that is, the institutions – that influence the activities of the chain. Global value chains are embedded in multiple ways in these institutional arrangements. Frequently, the lead firms or “drivers” of global value chains exhibit more power in influencing behavior in an industry than government laws and regulations. The latter are typically hindered by enforcement difficulties, whereas if suppliers do not comply with lead firm standards, they face harsh penalties or can be dropped from the chain by the lead firms placing the orders.


A GVC Framework for Analyzing the Linkages between International Economic

Processes and Food Consumption

The GVC approach we highlight here is industry and firm-centric, but global value chains do not operate in a vacuum. The role of government policies, social context, and external forces like NGOs all matter in the operation of the chain. The strength of the GVC framework is that all actors can try to take advantage of their position in the chain to influence business practices or government policies in a manner that seems favorable to them. This is where a public health agenda can come into play, particularly as it relates to food consumption and childhood obesity. Concretely, researchers can examine global value chains related to specific food systems to understand why and how diets are changing through global economic processes that shape or constrain the food options available to consumers. Below we highlight specific examples of how the GVC framework can be applied to understand food consumption by addressing the linkages between firms on a global scale.

  • GVC analysis shows how food production systems shape the availability of food

GVC research identifies every segment of food production systems, following products from “farm to fork.” We can broadly identify three stages in food production systems: (1) farm and harvest; (2) processing and manufacturing; and (3) retail. Within these three categories,


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