Conexiam Thought Leadership: Global value chains & agrifood standards in developing countries

April 18, 2011

Conexiam's consulting team members work in a variety of fields.

Janet Beauvais, one of our lead consultants in our Ottawa office, is completing a research sabbatical at McGill University - Desautels Faculty of Management. While there, Janet co-authored "Global Value Chains & Agrifood standards: Challenges and possibilities for smallholders in developing countries" with Joonkoo Lee (Hanyang University; Social Science Research Institute, Duke University) and Gary Gereffi (Duke University - Department of Sociology - Director, Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness).

The paper discusses how the 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. It also discusses 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. 

It was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 109, no. 31 (July 31, 2012), pp. 12326-12331. Part of Special Feature on “Agriculture Development and Nutrition Security.”

We are very proud that Janet's paper is in the top-ten downloaded from the Social Science Research Network in the Agriculture category.