Joint Publications

At the bottom of the food chain: Small operations versus multinational corporations in the food systems of Brazil, Mexico and South Africa

Published 31 August 2016, by Sanders et al

Publication: At the bottom of the food chain

This report examines how the food systems in South Africa, Brazil and Mexico are dominated by a small group of MNCs of both foreign and national origin that play a significant role in agricultural inputs and production, processing and manufacturing of foodstuffs, procurement, storage and transportation, retailing and consumption. Many studies of the food system track individual commodities, such as staple food items, in order to understand MNC dominance. However this approach carries the risk of underestimating the ownership and market share of conglomerates, and to their privileged access to information, capital, and political power, which operate and are dominant in more than one commodity chain. This report has therefore combined a review of the pathways of economic and political influence of MNCs in the food system with a value chain (VC) analysis as the lens through which to gauge the footprint of these so-called “stateless corporations” operating across the different nodes of the food systems in these three countries, and analyses the resulting impacts of this footprint.

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