Food & Agriculture

CGGC has been involved in groundbreaking research on global health issues, including how food and trade affect healthy diets. In the summer of 2007 researchers at CGGC were contacted by representatives of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, the National Institute of Health (NIH), and the World Health Organization (WHO) to participate in a series of conferences beginning in fall 2007 that would highlight new approaches to studying childhood obesity. Researchers at CGGC were specifically asked by organizers of the McGill Health Challenge and the WHO Early-Stage Expert Meeting on Trade and Healthy Diets to write a framework paper that would outline how researchers should address the multi levels of analysis which are needed to capture the various determinants of childhood obesity.

In this framework paper, “Trade, Transnational Corporations and Food Consumption: A Global Value Chain Approach,” CGGC researchers Gary Gereffi, Joonkoo Lee and Michelle Christian described how the global value chains framework is a useful analytic tool to understand how international economic processes, particularly the role of transnational corporations, impact the structural conditions. These conditions make certain types of food available that can potentially impact childhood obesity rates in both developed and developing countries.

A series of CGGC publications on global food and agriculture subsequently emerged in special issues of journals, such as “U.S.-based Food and Agricultural Value Chains and Their Relevance to Healthy Diets” (Gereffi, Lee and Christian), Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition (2009), and “Global Value Chains and Agrifood Standards: Challenges and Possibilities for Smallholders in Developing Countries” (Lee, Gereffi and Beauvais), Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2012). Christian and Gereffi contributed a chapter on “The Marketing and Distribution of Fast Food” in Michael Freemark’s edited book on Pediatric Obesity (2010), and other CGGC projects have looked at selected California crops (for the Environmental Defense Fund) and agricultural value chains in the Mexicali Valley (for the Walton Family Foundation).

In 2012, CGGC was awarded a prestigious U.S. Department of Defense Minerva Initiative 3-year research grant to look at “A Global Value Chain Analysis of Food Security and Food Staples for Major Energy-Exporting Nations in the Middle East and North Africa.” This project will be carried out in collaboration with Lincoln Pratson at the Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University.

Public-Private Partnerships in Global Value Chains: Can They Actually Benefit the Poor?

imageOver the last two decades, the contextual changes characterized by economic globalization not only influenced patterns of production, competition, and trade; they also provided opportunities for public-private partnerships (PPPs) to achieve development objectives. Today, global value chains (GVCs) account for an estimated 80 percent of world trade (UNCTAD, 2013). Integration in GVCs offers significant potential for economic growth in developing countries. The share of value-added trade in gross domestic product (GDP) for developing countries is on average 30 percent compared to 18 percent in developed countries (UNCTAD, 2013). The past 15 years also witnessed a proliferation of development PPPs between the private sector and the international development community.
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Burundi in the Coffee Global Value Chain: Skills for Private Sector Development

imageThe Skills for Private Sector Development Project, commissioned by the Education Division of the World Bank, employed the GVC framework to identify specific workforce development strategies to foster upgrading within three industries crucial to Burundi's economic development: agribusiness, coffee and energy. Upgrading in these value chains is dependent on developing new capabilities and generally requires a substantially different set of workers with different skill sets. Knowing the requirements at each stage can help policy makers to prepare the workforce for the needs of future upgrading strategies. Arabica coffee has been commercially grown and exported from Burundi for decades, even during periods of economic and political instability. The coffee sector is crucial to the Burundian economy, not only because it provides employment to a large number of smallholder farmers in the country, but also because the majority of the country’s foreign exchange earnings derive from coffee exports. As the country continues to rebuild its economy following the end of the crisis, there is keen interest from policy makers, donors and industry actors to bolster the sector in general, and specifically to identify potential opportunities to leverage the sector for improved labor productivity and job creation for the large number of unemployed youth in the country.
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Burundi in the Agribusiness Global Value Chain: Skills for Private Sector Development

imageThe Skills for Private Sector Development Project, commissioned by the Education Division of the World Bank, employed the GVC framework to identify specific workforce development strategies to foster upgrading within three industries crucial to Burundi's economic development: agribusiness, coffee and energy. Upgrading in these value chains is dependent on developing new capabilities and generally requires a substantially different set of workers with different skill sets. Knowing the requirements at each stage can help policy makers to prepare the workforce for the needs of future upgrading strategies. Agriculture is the central pillar of Burundi’s economy, accounting for more than one third of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employing virtually the entire rural workforce. With good geographic conditions and a suitable climate to production, the country has the potential to be a strong participant in the regional agricultural market. Yet, after years of conflict, the country faces important productivity, infrastructure and institutional challenges that continue to undermine the development of a market-oriented sector, and agriculture remains a primarily subsistence activity, dominated by smallholders with poor knowledge of modern agricultural practices and weak connections to the formal economy. All these constraints have limited the possibility of the country to participate in the global agribusiness value chain. However, Burundi is experiencing slowly rising incomes, growing domestic demand for foodstuffs and a need to formalize the country’s economy, placing pressure on the agricultural sector to modernize and organize to create productive, off-farm employment opportunities, generate revenues and, importantly for the short-term, contribute to the country’s food security.
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Agricultural Innovations and Market Access for Smallholders in Africa

imageAgriculture increasingly occurs in a context where private entrepreneurs coordinate extensive value chains linking producers to consumers, sometimes across multiple countries. These dynamics drive agricultural development and innovation far more than before across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). More providers of knowledge are on the scene, particularly from the private sector and civil society, and they interact in new ways to generate ideas or develop responses to dynamics in agro-food value chains. A growing number of entrepreneurial smallholders are organizing to enter these value chains, but others struggle with the economic marginalization as innovative solutions do not reach them due to missing links in the value chains.
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Global value chains and agrifood standards: Challenges and possibilities for smallholders in developing countries

imageThe rise of private food standards has brought forth an ongoing debate about whether they work as a barrier for smallholders and hinder poverty reduction in developing countries. This paper uses a global value chain approach to explain the relationship between value chain structure and agrifood safety and quality standards and to discuss the challenges and possibilities this entails for the upgrading of smallholders. It maps four potential value chain scenarios depending on the degree of concentration in the markets for agrifood supply (farmers and manufacturers) and demand (supermarkets and other food retailers) and discusses the impact of lead firms and key intermediaries on smallholders in different chain situations. Each scenario is illustrated with case examples. Theoretical and policy issues are discussed, along with proposals for future research in terms of industry structure, private governance, and sustainable value chains.
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Agricultural Value Chains in the Mexicali Valley of Mexico

imageThis study identifies the producers and buyers of the major crops grown in the Mexicali Valley – cotton, wheat, alfalfa, asparagus, and green onions. The report also reviews the public commitments made by these economic actors to sustainable environmental practices in their corporate sustainability reports.
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The Marketing and Distribution of Fast Food

This chapter seeks to advance the multilevel approach to studying childhood obesity by focusing on the "macro" level of corporations in the global economy. We use a global value chains (GVC) framework to explain how the structure of food and agricultural value chains, with an emphasis on the fast-food segment, affects individual consumption choices.
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Trade, Transnational Corporations and Food Consumption: A GVC Approach

imageThis paper explores the connections between the spread of obesity, especially in developing countries, and the interrelated expansion of trade, foreign direct investment, and transnational corporations (TNCs). The authors outline how the main concepts and methods of global value chains analysis can be applied to identify the direct and indirect linkages between the global economic processes of trade, foreign and direct investment, and food consumption.
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U.S.-Based Food and Agriculture Value Chains and their Relevance to Healthy Diets

imageThis paper outlines the global value chains (GVCs) of the chicken and tomato industries, showing how these industries have changed over time, who is driving that change, and how different segments of the value chain affect healthy diets and impact low-income populations. The authors specifically address how the lead firms in the global value chains of the chicken and tomato industries are a part of the processed food revolution and how this potentially impacts low-income communities.
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A Value Chain Analysis of the U.S. Beef & Dairy Industries

imageLivestock farms are a major source of greenhouse gases. Certain practices in feeding and manure management can reduce these and other environmental impacts, but how do you encourage 967,440 U.S. farms, ranches and feedlots to adopt these best practices? We find that the strongest leverage for effecting such change lies in the downstream players in the value chain.
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A Value Chain Analysis of the U.S. Pork Industry

imageOver-use of antibiotics in hog production poses the risk of creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria, seriously threatening human health. Reducing antibiotic use, however, poses challenges to hog farmers. By analyzing the value chain, we can better understand the industry’s dynamics, preparing the way for further work to find ways of protecting public health that also make good business sense.
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A Value Chain Analysis of Selected California Crops

imageCalifornia is the most diversified agricultural economy in the world, generating more agricultural value than many countries. In the value chains for two selected crops—grain corn and processed tomatoes—we identify the players positioned to encourage environmental best practices.
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A Global Value Chains Approach to Food, Healthy Diets, and Childhood Obesity

A challenge associated with the nutrition transition in developing countries (i.e.,simultaneous presence of over-nutrition and under-nutrition, both being most prevalent in the poorest population segments) is the integration of their markets into the global economy. This integration determined rapid and strong changes in the production and trade of agricultural goods in the developing countries as well as growing foreign direct investments in food processing and retailing, and the expansion of food advertisements with obvious implications for dietary patterns and the risk of obesity.
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