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.

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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