This paper provides a critical commentary on the conception of food miles followed by an empirical application of food miles to two contrasting food distribution systems based on carbon emissions accounting within these systems. The comparison is between the carbon emissions resultant from operating a large-scale vegetable box system and those from a supply system where the customer travels to a local farm shop. The study is based on fuel and energy use data collected from one of the UK’s largest suppliers of organic produce. The findings suggest that if a customer drives a round-trip distance of more than 6.7 km in order to purchase their organic vegetables, their carbon emissions are likely to be greater than the emissions from the system of cold storage, packing, transport to a regional hub and final transport to customer’s doorstep used by large-scale vegetable box suppliers. Consequently some of the ideas behind localism in the food sector may need to be revisited.
The opportunity for smallholders to raise their incomes increasingly depends on their ability to compete in the market; yet there are many failures in rural markets in developing countries that make it difficult for them to do this. Understanding how collective action can help address the inefficiencies, coordination problems or barriers to market access is particularly important. This paper draws on the case studies in this special issue and on other literature to examine the conceptual issues and empirical evidence on the role of collective action institutions in improving market access for the rural poor. Applying insights from studies of collective action in natural resource management, the paper examines what conditions facilitate effective producer organizations for smallholders’ market access, with special attention to the characteristics of user groups, institutional arrangements, types of products (staples, perishables and other commodities), markets (local, domestic and international), and external environment. The paper also identifies policies and interventions that facilitate collective action for market access among smallholders, and examines whether the public sector, private sector and/or civil society is best positioned to provide such interventions.
This paper is a summary of the behaviour of food commodity prices in 2007–2008 and a review of the causes of the price increases, extracted from a report to the Chief Scientific Advisor to Her Majesty’s Government [Thirtle, C., Piesse, J., 2008. An Explanatory Review of the World Food Commodity Price Events of 2007–2008. A Report to the Chief Scientific Advisor. Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, London]. The historical background shows that the price spike was much less severe than in the 1970s. The conventional wisdom that prices of the main food commodities were falling prior to 2006 is questioned. Most ceased falling and were quite stable from the 1980s. The paper separates the causes of the spike from the underlying changes driving the long run trends. The literature on the causes of the spike is critically reviewed and summarised. There is a reasonably broad consensus on most of the causes, but much less on the impact of the depreciation of the US Dollar. There are also concluding speculations on the future.
During the second half of the 20th century the global food production more than doubled and thus responded to the doubling of world population. But the gains in food production came at a cost, leaving a significant environmental footprint on the ecosystem. Global cropland, plantations and pastures expanded, with large increases in fossil energy, water, and fertilizer inputs, imprinting considerable footprint on the environment. Information from pre eminent publications such as , , and scholarly journals is synthesized to assess the water and energy footprints of global food production. The data show that the footprints are significant, both locally, national and globally and have consequences for global food security and ecosystem health and productivity. The literature nearly agrees that global food production system generates considerable environmental footprints and the situation would likely get worrisome, as global population grows by 50% by 2050. Investments are needed today to buffer the negative impacts of food production on the environment. Investments to boost water productivity and improve energy use efficiency in crop production are two pathways to reduce the environmental footprint.
Accessing developed country food markets entails meeting stringent food safety requirements. Food retailers impose protocols relating to pesticide residues, field and pack house operations, and traceability. To enable smallholders to remain competitive in such a system, new institutional arrangements are required. In particular, public–private partnerships can play a key role in creating farm to fork linkages that can satisfy market demands for food safety, while retaining smallholders in the supply chain. Furthermore, organized producer groups monitoring their own food safety standards through collective action often become attractive to buyers who are looking for ways to ensure traceability and reduce transaction costs. This paper compares the ways in which small producers of fruits and vegetables in Kenya and India have coped with increased demands for food safety from their main export markets.
This paper examines the notion of inclusiveness in rural producer organizations (RPOs) and the extent to which such RPOs can be used to reach the rural poor in sub-Saharan Africa. Using farmer cooperatives in Ethiopia as a case in point, the paper examines the role of RPOs in supporting smallholder commercialization, and the extent to which principles of an inclusive, bottom-up approach relate to their marketing performance. Based on a combination of nationally-representative household- and cooperative-level survey data, we find that poorer farmers tend not to participate in these organizations although they may indirectly benefit from them. When they do participate, they are often excluded from decision-making processes. Finally, we investigate the relationship between marketing performance and inclusiveness and uncover evidence of significant tradeoffs between them.
Farmer organization and collective action are often seen as key factors in enhancing farmers’ access to markets. Often, too little attention is directed at (a) the most appropriate types of organization; (b) whether organization makes less or more sense in the case of producers of an undifferentiated commodity or a higher value product; (c) whether the public or private sector is best placed to support farmer organizations; and (d) the conditions necessary for ensuring their economic viability. Research in Mexico and Central America explored these issues for commodity maize and high value vegetables, respectively. The benefits of farmer organization are more evident in the vegetable sector, characterized by high transaction costs associated with market access. However, horticultural farmer organizations in Honduras and El Salvador include less than 5% of total horticultural producers. This is possibly due to farmer organizations’ limited business skills and non-replicable organizational models. There is less incentive for maize farmers to organize to access output markets as the transaction costs are relatively low. The benefits of maize farmer organization are clearer when it comes to accessing inputs such as credit, seed and fertilizer. Farmer organization is a critical factor in making markets work for the poor, but the role and timing of public and private investment in these organizations is poorly understood.
The Papa Andina network employs collective action in two novel approaches for fostering market chain innovation. The participatory market chain approach (PMCA) and stakeholder platforms engage small potato producers together with market agents and agricultural service providers in group activities to identify common interests, share market knowledge and develop new business opportunities. These forms of collective action have generated commercial, technological and institutional innovations, and created new market niches for Andean native potatoes grown by poor farmers in remote highland areas. These innovations have benefited small farmers as well as other market chain actors. This paper describes Papa Andina’s experiences with collective action for market chain innovation. It then discusses the implications of these experiences for the understanding of collective action and the policy implications for research and development organizations.
With climate change and population growth, the pathways for reducing the environmental footprint of food production are increasingly sought, but poorly understood. This paper sketches the environmental footprints of water and energy use in food production systems. The main objective is to present an empirical application, to help identify the main pathways to reducing the footprints. The agricultural system of rice, wheat, and barley production on selected farms in the southern Murray Darling Basin in Australia is used as a case study. Further insights are gained through a review of the data published in pre eminent journals. Together the analysis indicates that boosting water productivity and improving energy use efficiency in crop production operations are the two possible pathways to reducing the environmental footprints of water and energy inputs in food production. These generic conclusions have implications for water, food and environment policy.
Many argue that food away from home (FAFH) is a contributing factor to the obesity epidemic, showing that body mass index and consumption of FAFH are positively correlated. However, correlation analyses using a simple regression approach, such as the Ordinary Least Squares (OLS), do not prove that FAFH causes weight gain. We use a first-difference estimator to establish a causal relationship between FAFH and dietary intakes. Using dietary recall data from the 2003–2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and the 1994–1996 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals, we find that FAFH does indeed increase caloric intake and reduce diet quality, but that the effect is smaller than if estimated using OLS. Thus, models based on associations are likely biased upward, as much as 25% by our estimates.
This study aims to examine the extent to which certain characteristics and asset endowments of smallholder farmer groups facilitate collective action initiatives to improve group marketing performance. This is approached through an evaluation of a government-led programme in Tanzania, which is attempting to increase smallholder farmers’ incomes and food security through a market-oriented intervention. Findings suggest that more mature groups with strong internal institutions, functioning group activities, and a good asset base of natural capital are more likely to improve their market situation. Gender composition of groups also affects group marketing performance, as an enabling factor for male-dominated groups. Structural social capital in the form of membership in other groups and ties to external service providers, and cognitive social capital in the form of intra-group trust and altruistic behaviour are not significant factors in a group’s ability to improve its market situation.
Since the mid 1980s, organic farming has become the focus of significant attention from policy-makers, consumers, environmentalists and farmers in Europe and state institutions have become increasingly involved in regulating and supporting the organic sector. Reflecting the multiple goals for organic farming and for agricultural policy, a varied and complex range of policy measures have been developed and implemented to support the organic sector. However, balancing societal and consumer/market goals and balancing institutional and private stakeholder interests in the organic sector present particular challenges for policy-making. The key issues of current organic farming policy addressed in this special issue therefore specifically consider the two different dimensions of policy development – the dimension of policies and the dimension of politics. This paper provides an introduction to the special issue by outlining organic farming policy development in the EU, providing the basic concepts of organic farming policies in Europe and introducing the key themes of the papers published in this special issue.
Food systems in developing countries are currently undergoing a rapid transformation towards high-value products and modern supply chains. While supply side aspects of this transformation have been analyzed previously, issues of consumer demand have received much less attention. This article analyses demand patterns for fresh fruits and vegetables in Vietnam, using household survey data and a demand systems approach. Demand for products from modern supply chains – particularly supermarkets and non-traditional imports – is highly income elastic, and the income effect is stronger than the impact of prices and supermarket penetration. This highlights the importance of considering demand side aspects when projecting future trends. Our results imply a continued restructuring of the food sector in the further process of economic development.
Organically produced foods have shown remarkable industry growth. Even with strict adherence to the production practices and increasing availability, the majority of consumers are still not aware of organically produced alternatives. Awareness of organics does not necessarily translate into actual consumption. Achieving awareness and understanding the linkage between awareness and purchasing organics is fundamental to impacting the demand for organically grown products. This study focuses on the responses of Spanish consumers regarding their state of knowledge about organic foods products. Consumer demographic characteristics, knowledge of enriched foods, and price perceptions are shown to impact awareness and consumption. Multinomial logit models are used to predict probabilities of awareness. Then probit models are estimated to link awareness and the actual consumption of organic foods. Factors impacting both awareness and consumption are explored using simulation methods and the coefficients from the logit and probit models.
Consumer willingness-to-pay for informational attributes of food products is important information for food producers and supply chain participants and policy makers. We examine consumer demand in the pork sector of the Republic of Georgia. Results of conditional and mixed logit estimation, conducted on choice experiment data, reveal that Georgian consumers treat quality certification and product traceability attributes as substitutes. We also find that producers and other supply chain participants should be concerned primarily with maintaining the appearance of pork products. Retailer specific factors such as location and type of outlet can also substitute for product traceability. Store location and product appearance, however, are complementary attributes. In light of the recent turbulence in Georgia these consideration may be of paramount importance as participants in the supply chain seek to rebuild damaged infrastructure.
Evidence of a decline in public trust associated with food risk governance over recent years has called into question the appropriateness of the current dominant risk analysis framework. Within the EU-funded SAFE FOODS project a novel risk analysis framework has been developed that attempts to address potential shortcomings by increasing stakeholder (including consumer) input, improving transparency, and formally incorporating benefit and non-health aspects into the analysis. To assess the viability of this novel framework, the views of food risk experts from the EU and beyond were sought using a distributed online questionnaire process called . In this paper the main results of this survey are described, revealing varying levels of support for the key innovations of the novel framework. Implications of our results for the new and old frameworks, for the future of risk analysis, and for the policy community more widely, are discussed.
Uganda’s rapid urbanization offers new market opportunities for smallholder farmers to supply higher value markets such as supermarket chains and fast-food restaurants. Supplying these formal outlets offers higher incomes but accessing and maintaining links to these markets requires significant upgrading in terms of product quality and business management. To meet these conditions farmers need to become more organized which requires increased levels of social capital, to strengthen internal and external relations with group members, service providers and market chain actors. One farmers’ group in south-western Uganda has successfully sustained sales of potatoes to a fast-food outlet in Kampala. Farmers had to learn a series of new skills and integrate multiple technical, organizational, financial and marketing innovations. This paper outlines how collective action combined with strong leadership and an iterative market-led learning process enabled a smallholder farmers’ association to meet the considerable challenges of achieving the stringent quality parameters of a modern food outlet.
This study aimed at examining the merit of crop diversification as a strategy for agricultural growth in Bangladesh. Specifically, the existence of economies of diversification, scale economies and diversification efficiencies at the farm level were examined using a stochastic input-distance function approach. The results reveal strong evidence of diversification economies amongst most crop enterprises except the combination of modern rice and modern wheat enterprises. Ray economies of scale exist in Bangladeshi cropping system. Also, significant are efficiency gains made from diversification among cropping enterprises. The key policy implication is that crop diversification should be a desired strategy for agricultural growth in Bangladesh. Development of the rural infrastructure is also essential as this will not only improve technical efficiency but may also synergistically promote crop diversification by opening up opportunities for technology diffusion, marketing, storage and resource supplies.
The paper is based on selected findings of the research project EEC 2092/91 (Organic) revision. It contributes to an improved understanding of the core ethical values associated with and principles of organic farming, analyses reference to such values in the European Regulation (EEC) 2092/91 and its ongoing revision, and contrasts them with current practice of organic agriculture. An analysis of differences in the implementation of the Regulation by national governments and private standards is presented. Ethical values are per se in need of interpretation, so the final section sets out procedural issues arguing for a deliberative model of decision-making, when aiming to achieve a coherent integration in the structure of a regulation.