ChapterPDF Available

Agri-food, innovation and sustainable development

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

Agri-food, innovation and sustainable development
Content may be subject to copyright.
INNOVATING FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
A P L A N E T F O R L I F E 101
CHAPTER 6
Stéphane
Fournier,
Researcher,
Montpellier SupAgro,
Montpellier, France
Marcelo
Champredonde,
Researcher, Université
de Toulouse Le Mirail,
Toulouse, France
Agri-food, innovation and
sustainable development
The sustainable development of systems of production, processing
and food distribution is a challenge for the twenty first century.
The technical innovations of the green revolution (1960-1990)
and those of the agri-food sector, along with the associated
processes of economic concentration and the financialization of
agricultural and food sectors, have created an agro-industrial
model that has become dominant (or conventional) in Northern
countries, and is undergoing strong expansion in Southern ones.
This model, which is based on the rationale of mass supply, has
been able to ensure food security for a proportion of the world’s
population, despite its rapid growth, but its limitations are clear. The model has led
to the degradation, or even exhaustion, of natural resources, the impoverishment
of farmers and massive rural exodus.
It is thus becoming increasingly evident that other solutions and other forms of
organization must affirm themselves to sustainably feed the nine billion people
that will occupy the planet in 2050. This conclusion points to the reconsideration of
so-called alternative systems, which in the North and South have existed alongside
the development of the agro-industrial model (short supply chains, local products...),
or have been developed or (re)defined relatively recently (organic farming, fair
trade...). For a long time, these systems have been given little consideration because
of their relative marginality (although this is much less true in recent times) and
their inability to ‘feed the world’. It is now becoming increasingly accepted that a
different type of agriculture would be able to supply enough food for the planet
(the generalization of organic farming in particular, according to the FAO (2007),
A P L A N E T F O R L I F E
102
could meet global food demand). Some prospective studies have been carried out
which consider two possible models of production and trade: the agro-industrial
model and a model based on family farming and local networks (R, 2012).
The latter appears viable and able to meet global food demand (P, T
and D, 2010).
It has been suggested that the most likely option would be ‘the pursuit of a third
scenario of coexistence between the two models’, and that this is necessary due to
the inertia of the system and the lack of a strong political will (R, 2012). The
coexistence of different models of production and trade has always been the rule
for feeding different societies. In fact, alternative and conventional systems interact
within the same meta-system (which we refer to here as the food system), in which
they are interrelated, complementary and competitive in a process of co-evolution
(C et al., 2013; F and T, 2013):
mInterrelated, because at the different levels of the industry, from the producer to
the consumer, there is a coexistence of various supply chains: farms and cooper-
atives, for example, which often sell their produce through different channels
(short, conventional, certified...); and the same applies at the consumer level,
where in most cases there is a diversification of supply sources (supermarkets,
farmers’ markets, organic stores...).
mComplementary: the coexistence of these different types of food supply chains is
an advantage for producers, who can diversify their incomes and strategies. For
consumers, this coexistence also has advantages, including the ability to choose
from a wider range of products. At the scale of food systems, this coexistence
is valuable in terms of food security: the risks appear lower in the case where
a city, region, etc. is supplied by a diverse range of food chains (T and
T, 2012). Similarly, conventional agriculture is not competitive in many
rural areas (isolated areas, mountains...), where only production with high added
value can be developed.
mCompetitive and in a process of co-evolution: competition with the agro-industrial
sector often leads alternative models towards progressive forms of ‘conventionali-
zation’ (intensification, seeking economies of scale and lower costs). We empha-
size here the influence that alternative models have on the agro-industrial model.
Alternative supply chains provide an avenue for criticism of the agro-industrial
model, and also an opportunity for experimenting with technical and organi-
zational solutions that are often, once their viability has been demonstrated,
integrated into the strategies of stakeholders in the dominant model. There are
numerous examples of such integration, from organic farming and fair trade to
short supply chains, all of which are now widely present in supermarkets. The
conventional and alternative models are thus a constant influence on each other.
This conceptualization of food systems, based on different models interacting with
each other, leads to a quite different understanding of alternative supply chains.
Beyond the low market share percentage they represent, these supply chains are
INNOVATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT CHAPTER 6
A P L A N E T F O R L I F E 103
A P L A N E T F O R L I F E 103
complementary to the agro-industrial system and have a strong ability to influence
it; they are therefore of primary importance in the development trajectory of food
systems.
We therefore propose a new interpretation of the different organizational innova-
tions that have transformed food systems in recent decades: sustainable standards
(F, 2012) and the revival of local supply chains (short and/or local, or
the maintenance of a strong link between local production and consumers who
are connoisseurs of these products). In both cases, we try to show the basis of their
sustainability, the challenges these innovations are faced with due to competition
with other models of production and trade within food systems, and the recombi-
nation of these systems that they cause.
Sustainable labels: the reaffirmation of ethical values,
the fight against intensification and a strengthening of
the capacity for collective action
The coffee sector is proving to be a very relevant example for understanding the
effects of sustainable standards. Coffee culture, which has globalized between the
seventeenth and twentieth centuries, has played an important role in ecosystems:
it is the only practicable culture in many steeply sloping mountainous areas in the
tropics and it helps to protect the soil (provides resistance to erosion) and preserve
biodiversity (fauna and flora) if practiced under shade. Its importance from a social
and economic perspective has become equally essential: it currently sustains 125
million people and is a vital income source for more than 40 countries.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF AGRO-INDUSTRIAL SECTORS
The sustainability of this sector began to be questioned during the twentieth
century when a number of countries, including Brazil, began major deforestation
programmes for the development of large plantations. From the 1960s, the green
revolution also introduced new practices, that were more harmful to the environ-
ment, which gradually resulted in the replacement of traditional coffee growing:
maximum productivity was sought in coffee growing zones located in direct sunlight
through the heavy reliance on chemical inputs. This intensification also led to stand-
ardization: the most productive varieties spread globally and crop management
techniques were homogenized, both at the agricultural and the post-harvest levels,
while regional specificities were no longer enhanced.
International trade increased during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
This globalization did not go smoothly. While the growth in demand occurred at
a relatively steady pace, it was not the same for the supply, which was subject to
considerable fluctuations due to weather conditions. Crises of overproduction tended
to follow periods of shortage. The resulting price instability was problematic for
producers. In the 1930s, solutions were sought at the national level in producing
countries (stabilization funds, marketing boards...), and then internationally (inter-
national coffee agreement, signed in 1962 by producer and consumer countries,
A P L A N E T F O R L I F E
104
which remained in force until 1989), although this did not seem to be sufficient to
stabilize prices (D and P, 2005).
Another factor was added to price instability, threatening the sector’s sustain-
ability: the share of the price paid by the final consumer (in importing countries)
that went to the producer was decreasing significantly. There are various reasons
behind this development and the strong horizontal concentration of the industry at
the coffee roaster level is often cited as one of the main ones.1 However, accompa-
nying this trend has been a major process of sectoral development: symbolic attrib-
utes have gradually become more important than the intrinsic quality of the coffee
(D and P, 2005). Through global sourcing and the necessary skills to
create coffee brands with specific and stabilized flavour profiles, and an active and
expensive marketing strategy, large downstream groups in the sector have been able
to appropriate these symbolic attributes and have taken up a dominant position,
allowing them to exert constant pressure on producer prices, whose green coffee
has become a commodity. During periods of low prices, the only choice for growers
is to increase production (by using more chemical inputs) or to abandon production
1. Five multinationals hold almost half of the market share globally: Nest lé, Philip Morris/Kraft, Tchibo, Procter and
Gamble, Sara Lee/Dou we Egberts.
FIGURE 1 Non-sustainability of the agro-industrial model in the coffee sector
Café
XXX
Café
XXX
Café
XXX
Café
XXX
Café
XXX
Café
XXX
INNOVATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT CHAPTER 6
A P L A N E T F O R L I F E 105
altogether, which is not beneficial considering the environmental services derived
from this type of cultivation.
There is, however, another way. Shaded coffee plantations and more qualita-
tive practices produce a crop with superior organoleptic qualities that exhibit their
specific terroir, i.e. flavour profiles typically associated with a certain region that are
appreciated by connoisseurs. These shaded plantations can significantly reduce input
use and promote the maintenance of biodiversity. There is therefore a strong link
between organoleptic and environmental quality, a systemic dimension of sustain-
ability: the guarantee of remunerative markets is an essential condition for growers
to make the necessary investments in the development of these new practices. A
virtuous circle of sustainability can be put in place: better remuneration for growers,
greener practices, better quality coffee, etc. This virtuous circle, however, has to cope
with the supply chains that are currently in place: without certainty on the possi-
bilities of economically enhancing sustainable production, growers cannot easily
develop.
EMERGENCE OF SUSTAINABLE L ABELS
Different actors have attempted to overcome the status quo and to change the way
the sector functions. Since the 1970s, fair trade coffee initiatives have multiplied,
FIGURE 2 Virtuous circle of sustainable labels
Café
FAIR
TRADE
A P L A N E T F O R L I F E
106
ensuring that consumers in Northern countries fairly remunerate producers. In the
late 1980s, there was an evolution in fair trade with the appearance of labels. Various
national initiatives, now gathered within Fairtrade International (FLO), provided
an opportunity for coffee roasters to sell certified products, offering a guarantee
to consumers that producers would be fairly paid. The certification of producers
requires them to gather into cooperatives, which allows local development processes
in production areas. Environmental protection is also sought, with environmental
standards for all certified production.
As a result, a new sustainability scheme was put in place. A label, which guaran-
tees fair remuneration for producers, the improvement of their capacity for collec-
tive action and environmental protection, and which also helps educate consumers,
to retain their custom through the supply of quality products, and thus to sustain
the industry.
THE REACTIONS OF MACRO ACTORS
Alongside the organic and fair trade labels, new labels quickly appeared (Utz certi-
fied, Rainforest Alliance...), and the certified coffee market grew.
There has been a two-stage reaction from the large coffee roasting (and distri-
bution) companies. First, a majority of these companies tended to create their
own specifications and labels and to undertake communication strategies that
best demonstrated their corporate responsibility. Starbucks provides probably the
most emblematic example of this trend, with its Coffee And Farmer Equity (CAFE)
Practices, which were developed in the late 1990s with the NGO Conservation Inter-
national. These specifications gave an assurance to consumers that the company was
taking economic, social and environmental dimensions into account. Other compa-
nies have also developed their own specifications, such as the Common Code for
the Coffee Community (4C), which was created in 2003. A recent trend is for these
large companies to develop specific alliances with individual labels.
At the same time, supermarkets tend to systematically introduce these sustain-
able coffees onto their shelves, which has enabled the growth in demand to be
maintained.
The fact that multinational companies (roasters and distributors) entered into
the world of sustainable labels has had multiple consequences: firstly, there was
a change of scale, the leading labelling organizations and certification bodies had
to cope with increasing volumes. Undeniably, the increase in the market share of
certified coffees had a positive impact on the overall sustainability of the sector,
although the ‘professionalization’ of certified channels that followed has been subject
to some criticism regarding the conventionalization of business practices within the
labelled channels.
Competition between labels has also increased, a situation that was initially viewed
as potentially positive: the most transparent, persuasive and demanding label would
win the votes of consumers, assert itself and encourage others to increase the strin-
gency of their requirements. However, the structure of the coffee industry is such
INNOVATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT CHAPTER 6
A P L A N E T F O R L I F E 107
that consumer choices tend to be driven by the prior decisions of large roasters. And
roasters may move towards labels that are the most compatible with the requirements
of economic efficiency, and not to those that provide the highest standards, which
would have the most significant impact on costs. An increasing tension has therefore
emerged between the less demanding labels and those that have maintained more
progressive objectives, while market forces have seemed to reinforce the former. This
has led to some authors calling for stronger state intervention, as it appears to be the
only way of ensuring minimum requirement levels for labels (R et al., 2007).
RESULTS
The scaling up of certified channels, a long sought objective by their promoters, has
now occurred. Certified coffee as a whole already accounted for 8% of world trade
in green coffee in 2009, but forecasts on the basis of the average annual growth
rate achieved over the period 2006-2009 are of the order of 20% to 25% per year
(in comparison, the conventional coffee market was only growing by 2% per year),
leading to the estimation that they could represent 25% of the market share in 2015
(P et al., 2011).
These figures could suffice to demonstrate the success of such initiatives, but
the various criticisms mentioned above (possible conventionalization and impact
reduction) raise some doubts. Scaling up has necessitated an adaptation to agro-
industrial practices.
However, the great upheaval caused by the introduction of these standards into
the coffee sector is an indication of their importance: giving consumers the ability
to express their preferences for more sustainable production and trade systems, and
thus to influence the practices and strategies of those involved, these standards have
played a vital role in the process of strengthening the sustainability of long supply
chains such as the coffee sector. Their development has focused consumer attention
on the modes of production and their impacts or on the remuneration of producers,
for example, and has coerced the macro actors into incorporating these sustainable
standards into their strategies, and to communicate on these different aspects for
an increasing number of products in their ranges.
Nevertheless, it is often stressed that these sustainable labels are currently at a
crossroads. If we maintain that their incorporation into the strategies of actors from
the dominant model can be seen as an element of success of the initial project, there
are clearly some significant risks. The big players can indeed, as we have seen, seek to
reduce the constraints imposed by these sustainable standards, thereby reducing the
impacts on farming communities. These initiatives can then be confined to a niche
market, serving as a safety net for populations that have been marginalized by the
dominant system and as a means of minimizing the environmental impact within an
agro-industrial model that, in this case, they would complement (D, 2010;
L et al., 2010). It is indeed unlikely that they could represent the entire agro-
industrial sector, even in the medium term, at least if there are no major political
changes in the rules of international trade. However, it is also possible that these
A P L A N E T F O R L I F E
108
sustainable standards could continue to be a force for change and, probably through
new innovations, demonstrate that it is possible to achieve success in the building
of sustainable supply chains.
One of the main contributions of sustainable standards is therefore to have
increased the information given to consumers, thus progressively raising their aware-
ness of modes of production. Other models of production and trade, recently boosted
by various innovations, can help to establish stronger links between consumers and
producers.
A return to local: territorial anchorage and the
reconnection of consumers and producers
The return to local production appears as another important innovation in food
systems. For many consumers, it is a guarantee of greater sustainability, it allows
the sourcing of quality products while helping to maintain local agriculture, or
more distant agriculture but that which respects traditional modes of production.
The consumer desire for a return to a focus on the local level has resulted in two
distinct paths, but ones that follow the same rationale, a reconnection with farmers.
PATTERNS OF LOCAL OR LOCALIZED PRODUCTION AND TRADE
The first path concerns local systems (of production and trade), and consists of
multiple initiatives to enable the maintenance of a traditional (or peasant) agricul-
ture through the enhancement of short supply chains2. While these chains have
always existed, and even remained dominant in many Southern countries, different
actors (consumers, producers, agricultural and rural development agencies, local
authorities...) have sought to reinvigorate them, mainly in Northern countries. Their
motivations are twofold: to improve the economic situation of (small) producers,
and to reduce the environmental impact of food systems through the limitation
of transportation. A number of organizational innovations have thus been intro-
duced to meet the varied expectations and procurement practices of consumers,
leading to a wide variety of short supply chains (direct sales, farmers’ markets,
AMAP (French model of community-supported agriculture), box schemes, online
selling...) (C, 2008).
The second path that has led to the reconsideration of the local level involves
an increased focus on the terroir of products (systems that can be described as
localized), marketed through chains of varying lengths. In almost all regions of the
world, specific know-how (agricultural or agri-food related) has been developed over
the long term by farming communities, allowing the valorization of local natural
resources. In many cases, these local techniques have enabled the creation of local
produce with a territorial character (C et al., 2008). The sustainability
of local production is based on several factors, but a major element differentiates
2. Defined here as shor t supply chains th at consist of no more than one intermediary between the producer and the
consumer, in accordance wit h the definition given by the French Ministry of Agriculture in 200 9.
INNOVATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT CHAPTER 6
A P L A N E T F O R L I F E 109
this type of production from the agro-industrial model: the identity and symbolic
value of products. On the producer side, the role of terroir products in the local
cultural heritage can thus be seen as an obstacle to possible intensification, which
would distort these products. On the consumer side, it creates a willingness to pay.
This renewed attention on local produce does not necessarily constitute a recent
innovation in European countries, where Geographical Indications (GI) have offered
protection since the beginning of the twentieth century; but on the global scale,
and more specifically in Southern countries, this movement truly established itself
during the last decade.3
Two Argentinian case studies enable the better understanding of the basis of
sustainability offered by this type of production system, but also the potential threats
that they face.
SALAMI FROM COLONIA C AROYA (ARGENTINA): THE RISK OF SCALING UP
The town of Colonia Caroya, in the Province of Córdoba (Argentina), was founded by
Italian immigrants in the late nineteenth century. These migrants came from Italy’s
Friuli region, where there is an important charcuterie tradition (cooked meats and
pork products). They built their homes on the same model as in Italy, with a cellar
(sótano) dedicated to the drying of cured meats; and they developed a method of
salami production, initially only for their own consumption. The immigrants adapted
their expertise to suit the local resources: while Friuli salami is based only on pork,
the Colonia Caroya variation can consist of up to 50% beef. Production was tradi-
tionally on a domestic, small volume scale: a family working with neighbours and
friends would butcher and process two or three pigs and perhaps a single cow from
the same farm. Maintaining the quality and typicality of the salami was guaranteed
by the strong proximity that existed within the restricted circles of producers and
consumers. From the 1950s, however, production started to become more market
orientated. Salami producers took advantage of their proximity to a major road
(going through Argentina from north to south), where they could sell their products
by the roadside, leading to a greater distribution of the salami across the country.
While the reputation of the gringo4 salami from Colonia Caroya grew steadily, its
domestic scale of production remained unchanged for several years.
By the late 1970s, however, several local stakeholders had moved into larger scale
production, focusing on the national market. This commercial salami production
boomed throughout the 1980s and 1990s, with various consequences. First, a discon-
nection between producers and consumers emerged, with salamis being sold to
consumers via increasingly long (and intermediated) supply chains. In this way,
consumers became less able to recognize the quality and uniqueness of the product.
This development opened up a window for the introduction of technical innovations
3. The signing of ag reements on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in 1994 within the World Trade
Organization, marks the beginning of this process.
4. Nickname given to t he Italians and their first d escendants in Argentina.
A P L A N E T F O R L I F E
110
to meet the growing demand, such as the replacement of traditional sótanos (cellars)
with cold rooms allowing the drying of much larger volumes of salami, together with
the introduction of plant proteins and starter bacteria to reduce the drying time. The
opening in the domestic market and the increasing demand have therefore caused a
loss in the product’s uniqueness, that could in the short term question the sustain-
ability of the production system (which is based on the acceptance of the consumer to
pay more). The product faced increasing competition with the production of salami
from other regions (which sometimes assume the identity of the Colonia Caroya
salami), which has prompted some local businesses to continue their strategy of
intensification and industrialization. A strong horizontal concentration has resulted,
three companies (out of 30) account for 58% of the total production (B, 2012).
Since 2008, a GI registration project has been in existence for the salami, the
benefits of which can be significant as it enables consumers to identify typical
products on the market, which can help sustain small-scale producers that have
retained traditional techniques (B and C, 2013).
BEEF FROM THE ARGENTINE PAMPAS: WHEN SUPERMARKETS CHALLENGE TRADITIONAL
BREEDING
The beef from the Pampas region of Argentina has a high reputation in domestic and
international markets. Its specific qualities are associated with grassland produc-
tion systems, the expertise of gauchos (farmers) and with British cattle breeds,
Aberdeen Angus and Hereford. Production involves such practices as the fattening
of castrated cattle and heifers on grass and their slaughter at an early age (15-20
months) and at light net weight. The resulting meat is not only tender, succulent
and well marbled, but also has a good balance of unsaturated and saturated fats.
Traditionally, these products are offered to consumers through short channels (direct
sales or via butchers) and a certain amount of expertise exists at the consumer level
to assess the quality of the meat. This type of agriculture contributes to the preser-
vation of the environment (ensuring the renewal of nitrogen in the soil to maintain
fertility and thus allowing the minimization of fertilizer use), and the maintenance of
biodiversity (wild fauna and flora), while having a positive impact on human health.
This traditional mode of production was relatively stable until the 2000s. There-
after, it was challenged by the rise of farming activities, including the cultivation
of soybeans, the increase in the size and level of intermediation chains, and finally
by the changing demands of consumers: by aiming to provide customers with a
guarantee of meat tenderness, rather than its typicality, supermarkets have offered
higher prices for cattle fed in feedlots, or that have been fed significant amounts
of supplements (silage, grain or industrial supplements). A reduction of consumer
knowledge, initiated by the development of long supply chains, has worsened with
the development of supermarket quality criteria.
The traditional Argentine Pampas beef production system owes its preservation
mainly to the existence of independent butchers who only offer beef from pastoral
systems and are able, if asked, to describe the meat’s origin to the consumer. A
INNOVATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT CHAPTER 6
A P L A N E T F O R L I F E 111
possible GI certification system is currently under consideration, but it seems that
the extra costs such a scheme would entail is incompatible with consumer expecta-
tions, given the current awareness of the differences induced by the various farming
methods. Short supply chains allow traditionally farmed produce to be sold at similar
prices to those of intensively reared supermarket-sold meat.
RESULTS: M ODEL SUSTAINABILITY AND DEVELOPMENT TRAJECTORIES
These examples clearly demonstrate firstly the ability of local or localized production
to build special relationships between producers and consumers. The initial connec-
tions that exist between these actors give consumers a certain level of knowledge
about producers or production areas, their possible constraints and the techniques
used; and strengthens their propensity to buy these local products at a higher price.
This price premium may be the guarantor of the maintenance of good quality agricul-
tural and processing practices that preserve the environment and biodiversity. The
sustainability of these traditional supply chains thus appears guaranteed.
This type of supply chain, however, is facing multiple threats. Scaling up often
proves problematic, as illustrated by the example of the Colonia Caroya salami. It
can lead to a form of conventionalization. But ultimately, it is confrontation and
competition with other forms of production, which are more agribusiness-like, which
FIGURE 3 Sustainability of local products
A P L A N E T F O R L I F E
112
calls into question the sustainability of these traditional systems, as also seen from
the example of beef from the Argentine Pampas.
The examples discussed here show the value that innovations such as the ones
mentioned above can deliver: in this process of confrontation between models or
production modes, it is innovations such as short supply chains or geographical
indications which may help maintain these systems.
These local or localized industries always appear relatively marginal when the
entire food distribution system is considered as a whole, at least in the North.
However, they involve a large number of small farmers5, for whom they provide
a livelihood. And, in the same way as the aforementioned sustainable labels, they
have a strong ability to influence the entire food system, their recent (re)develop-
ment having sparked a whole movement, where many actors are now promoting
their products with information such as geographical origin and even the identity
of producers.
Conclusion
The agro-industrial model has created a distancing of producers and consumers
that is economic (due to intermediation between industries), physical (linked to
urbanization) and cognitive (the technicization of agriculture and the agri-food
industry has made knowledge of techniques less accessible to consumers). This
distancing on three counts has led to a disconnection, making consumers much less
aware of agricultural developments and encouraging them to seek food at the lowest
possible price. In turn, those involved in the supply chain have sought to develop
economies of scale and implement technological innovations to reduce production
costs, sometimes at the expense of product quality. This approach has significantly
strengthened downstream sectors and impacts heavily on the ability of farmers to
maintain environmentally friendly practices, since optimum performance is instead
the main objective.
Faced with this development, different organizational innovations have proven
their ability to reconnect producers and consumers, and in so doing, to give new
meaning to food (M et al., 2000). The first such innovations, described in the
first part of this paper, are sustainable labels that provide information and assurances
to consumers on modes of production and/or trade at the early stages of the chain.
A second innovation, which was the subject of the second part of this article, repre-
sents a higher level of (re)connection between consumers and producers through
direct or very weakly intermediated relationships, and/or guarantees about the
production area and techniques (use of GI).
These alternative systems ensure greater sustainability. They represent, despite
the limitations mentioned above, another model of production and exchange, which
is opposed to the agro-industrial model in many ways:
5. For example, it is estimated that 18% of French farms sell at least part of their production via short supply chains ,
according to the Ge neral Agricultural Census of 2010.
INNOVATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT CHAPTER 6
A P L A N E T F O R L I F E 113
mProduct standardization is an essential aspect of the agro-industrial model to
enable large-scale production and a globalized trade, while alternative systems
enhance the typicality of local production.
mThis allows these alternative systems to open new areas of growth, since economic
efficiency is not based on economies of scale, but on the valorization of specific
attributes.
mThe agro-industrial model encourages the competitiveness of farms and agribusi-
nesses at the individual level, alternative models as a whole promote instead the
search for a collective efficacy within a localized network.
mThe role of consumers is very different in the agro-industrial model, in which
the price factor coordinates all exchanges, as compared to alternative models,
in which the values of identity, ethics and citizenship are involved.
Alternative supply chains thus have the ability to fulfil the functions for which the
agro-industrial model is insufficient, such as the valorization of agricultural land in
marginalized regions. More generally, controversies persist as to their ability to feed
the world, but they often prove necessary to market the products of small farms6,
and thus involve a large number of farmers.
There are limitations however. In the examples presented here, competition for
these alternative supply chains has sometimes created a form of conventionalization.
Labelled supply chains can also be a source of exclusion and do not always create the
territorial development processes expected in the production areas. It should also be
noted that some studies have not confirmed whether short supply chains do in fact
have smaller environmental footprints in all cases (because transport accounts for
a small proportion of greenhouse gas emissions in food production, while the last
kilometre, i.e. the distance the consumer travels to shop for food, is more significant)
(E et al., 2011). Doubts are also raised regarding the economic profitability
of farms that sell through such supply channels when the hourly wages of farmers
is brought into the analysis.
These limitations may still be largely attributed to the persistent confrontation
between alternative supply chains and the agro-industrial approach. The alternative
models also strongly influence the agro-industrial system, and are able to trigger
change in all food systems. They promote consumer awareness to the issues of
food sustainability, which is then disseminated by the media and seems to spread
at the societal level. Ultimately, they serve to obligate actors in the agro-industrial
system to review their strategies. The diversity of models within food systems thus
strengthens their capacity for innovation and adaptation. In this respect, they must
be protected and promoted by public authorities.
Organizational innovations within systems that are now considered as alternative
therefore play an important role in the modification of the dominant food systems,
6. The number of small farmers (defined as those who farm are as of less than 2 hectare s) is estimated to be 500 million
in developing countr ies (HLPE, 2013).
A P L A N E T F O R L I F E
114
even though they remain marginal. However, there is a possibility that this margin-
ality will not persist. The dominance of the agro-industrial model derives from its
ability to provide food at very competitive prices, but once we take into account and
monetize its negative externalities, this competitiveness is called into question. In
addition, the agro-industrial model relies heavily on the availability of fossil fuels;
and their depletion will eventually cause a total reshuffle. |
INNOVATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT CHAPTER 6
A P L A N E T F O R L I F E 115
REFERENCES
B E., 2012, La filière du salame de Colonia Caroya:
Quelles perspectives pour la mise en place d’une In-
dication Géographiques? Thesis presented in view
to obtain a Masters degree in Food Identity, E.S.A.
Angers, France, 111 p.
B E. and C M., 2013, Caracteri-
zación de la puesta en mercado del salame de colo-
nia caroya en el contexto de la construcción de una
indicación geográfica como motor de desarrollo.
In: Urbano B., Researches in Sustainability and Food
Safety for the Development, Ed. Agencia Internac-
ional Española de Cooperación para el Desarrollo,
Universidad de Valladolid, Spain. (to be published)
C F., S B., N Y., B C.,
C J.B. and R F., 2008, Terroir et typi-
cité: deux concepts-clés des appellations d’origine
contrôlées. Essai de définitions scientifiques et
opérationnelles. In: Sylvander B., Casabianca F.,
Coulon J.B. Roncin F. (eds). Produits agricoles et
alimentaires d’origine: enjeux et acquis scientifiques.
Inra / Inao, Paris: INRA Editions, pp. 199-213.
C M., and P C M., 2010,
Quand une Indication Géographique devient un
outil de promotion du développement local: le cas
du Chivito Criollo del Norte Neuquino en Argentine,
In: Proceedings of the International Seminar ‘Spa-
tial Dynamics in Agri-food Systems’, 27-30 October
2010, Parma (Italy), 8 p.
C Y., 2008, Les circuits courts de commer-
cialisation en agriculture: diversité et enjeux pour
le développement durable. In: Marechal G. (dir.),
Les circuits courts alimentaires. Dijon: Educagri Edi-
tions, pp. 21-30.
C P., F S. and T J.-M., 2013,
Food Systems. In: Esnouf C., Russel M. et Bricas N.
(coord) Food System Sustainability – Insights from
duALIne, Cambridge University Press, pp. 69-100.
D B. and P S., 2005, The Cof fee Paradox:
Global Markets, Commodity Trade and the Elusive
Promise of Development. London: Zed Book, 295 p.
D B., 2010, Le commerce équitable, à la croi-
sée des chemins. Cahiers Agriculture, vol. 19, spe-
cial issue 1, March 2010, pp. 3-4.
E C., R M. and B N. (coord), 2011,
Pour une alimentation durable – Réflexion stra-
tégique duALIne, Versailles: Editions Quae, 245 p.
FAO, 2007, Report of the international conference on
organic agriculture and food security. Rome, 3-5
May 2007, OFS/2007/REP, 14 p.
F E., 2012, ‘Sustainable voluntary stand-
ards: towards privatized regulation in the food and
farm sector?’, In: Jacquet P., Pachauri R., Tubiana
L. (dir.), A Planet for Life 2012: Development, the
environment and food: towards agricultural change?
Coll. A Planet for Life, TERI Press, pp.215-225.
F S. and T J.-M., 2013, Syal et glo-
balisation: quelle valeur heuristique de l’approche
Syal pour appréhender la complexité des systèmes
alimentaires ? Communication presented at the
fifth International conference on localized agri-
food system, UFSC/Cirad, 21-25 May 2013, Flori-
anópolis, Brazil.
HLPE, 2013, Investing in smallholder agriculture for
food security. A report by the High Level Panel of
Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the Com-
mittee on World Food Security, Rome, 112 p.
L J.-F., F L. and M C., 2010,
Commerce équitable. Les défis de la solidarité dans
les échanges internationaux. Presses de l’Université
du Québec, Collection Initiatives, 170 p.
M T., B J. and B G., 2000, Food
Supply Chain Approaches: Exploring their Role in
Rural Development. Sociologia Ruralis, 40(4): 424-
438.
P S., T S. and D B. (eds.), 2010,
Agrimonde, Scenarios and Challenges for Feeding the
World in 2050. Quae, Versailles: 296 p.
P C M., 2007, Transformations des stra-
tégies sociales et productives des éleveurs transhu-
mants de la province de Neuquén et de leurs rela-
tions avec les interventions de développement, PhD
Thesis, University of Toulouse Le Mirail, France,
308 p.
P J., G D. and K  A., 2011,
Trends in the trade of certified coffees. ITC, Technical
Paper, Doc. No. MAR-11-197.E
R J.-L., 2012, The agri-food industry at the
heart of the global food system. In: Jacquet P.,
Pachauri R., Tubiana L. (dir.), A Planet for Life 2012:
Development, the environment and food: towards ag-
ricultural change? Coll. A Planet for Life, TERI Press,
pp.183-194.
R L. T., M D. and H A., 2007,
Regulating sustainability in the coffee sector: a
comparative analysis of third-party environmental
and social certification initiatives. Agriculture and
Human Values 24(2): 147-163.
T J. M. and T L., 2012, Sécurisation
alimentaire et innovations dans l’agriculture et
l’agroalimentaire: vers un nouvel agenda de re-
cherche? Une revue de la littérature. Cahiers Agri-
cultures, 21(5): 293-301.
... These "productive" technical itineraries being more or less harmonized at international level, farmers' products lose their specificity and become more or less standardized and homogenized. It is then easier for downstream stakeholders to reinforce their market power: if farmers refuse the prices they offer, they can be confident about the fact they can find a same products' quality elsewhere in the planet (Fournier and Champredonde, 2014). ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Cocoa price on the international market was high for a decade when, in 2016, fair trade impact studies have been done in three countries (Ivory Coast, Madagascar and Nicaragua). These studies allow analysing fair trade impact when "price effect" is quasi-inexistent. We show that fair trade still has an important role to play in this context, by allowing producers' organizations improving cocoa plantations' sustainability and profitability. But we also bring to light the challenge of social inclusion and the risk of inequalities' reinforcement in a context of fair trade scaling up, as well as the threats to producers' organizations that appear in this high prices context, due to a stronger competition with private middlemen and producers' organizations with other sustainable standards, and within fair trade organisations themselves. Finally, we conclude on the importance of the producers' organizations, which are confirmed as a fundamental element of fair trade, beyond guaranteed minimum price and premium.
La filière du salame de Colonia Caroya: Quelles perspectives pour la mise en place d'une Indication Géographiques? Thesis presented in view to obtain a Masters degree in Food Identity
B E., 2012, La filière du salame de Colonia Caroya: Quelles perspectives pour la mise en place d'une Indication Géographiques? Thesis presented in view to obtain a Masters degree in Food Identity, E.S.A. Angers, France, 111 p.
Le commerce équitable, à la croisée des chemins
D B., 2010, Le commerce équitable, à la croisée des chemins. Cahiers Agriculture, vol. 19, special issue 1, March 2010, pp. 3-4.
Investing in smallholder agriculture for food security. A report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security
HLPE, 2013, Investing in smallholder agriculture for food security. A report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security, Rome, 112 p.
Sécurisation alimentaire et innovations dans l'agriculture et l'agroalimentaire: vers un nouvel agenda de recherche? Une revue de la littérature
T J. M. and T L., 2012, Sécurisation alimentaire et innovations dans l'agriculture et l'agroalimentaire: vers un nouvel agenda de recherche? Une revue de la littérature. Cahiers Agricultures, 21(5): 293-301.