Market restructuring, quality standard and trade integration

In all Southeast-Asian countries, food systems are facing profound transformations at marketing, processing and distribution levels driven by urbanization and the associated transformation of food consumption patterns in a context of stronger regional integration

Trade liberalization within ASEAN, towards neighboring countries such as China and at international level, with new trade agreements (e.g. the EU-Vietnam FTA) might offer new market opportunities, but at the same time, it increases the competitive pressure over production systems. As part of these transformations, a wide range of food safety and quality standards are developing, public or private, mandatory (food safety regulations) or voluntary (clean vegetables, VietGAP, organic, geographical indications [1], individually or collectively managed. These standards play a key role in value chain governance and modify the barriers and opportunities for local producers or processors, especially for smallholders. Particular attention is paid to standards fostering collective action and collaborative market-oriented models for small-scale farmers (in alignment with our focus in point a).

Below are research questions to be addressed under this topic:

  • What are the main drivers of changes in the governance of value chains: in particular, what role do domestic or international macro-actors play, e.g. in the retail sector?
  • How do urban policies, and more generally urban-driven innovations, intervene in shaping market operators’ and consumers’ practices?
  • What organizational and institutional arrangements, what collective action at value chain level towards sustainable food systems? How do different types of chain integration (producer driven in the context of different collective action models versus retail driven) operate and what role for contractual arrangements? How to draw lessons for policy-making?
  • What are the risks and opportunities set by new consumption trends towards guaranteed food quality: safe food, healthy food, origin-based branding (geographical indications, trademarks)? How to set up food standard policy, controls, certification and institutional support structures?

What are the challenges of market integration at national, regional and international levels? In particular, in terms of regulations which are currently not homogeneous? How can smallholders take advantage and benefit more from regional and international trade (focus on Vietnam-Laos-China-Cambodia; and on the following products: maize, beef, poultry, pork, vegetables, rice)?

[1] To stress the broad range of quality standards MALICA is working on, we have included geographical indications in the category of quality standards, but without prejudice of their nature as intellectual property right.

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