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Contrasting paths of corporate greening in Antipodean agriculture : organics and green production
chapterposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 authored by Kristen LyonsKristen Lyons, Geoffrey LawrenceGeoffrey Lawrence, D Burch, Stewart LockieStewart Lockie
Over the last few decades, and throughout the world, the corporate sector has sought to establish its environmental credentials by integrating environmental and social justice issues into its corporate policy agendas and practice. Such restructuring is particularly evident throughout agriculture and food systems, where food processors and retailers appear to have taken note of the lessons to be drawn from the growth of the organic food sector. The growth of organic production has led the corporate sector to address - in various ways and to different degrees - 'green' issues in shaping the trajectory of this development. For some corporate actors, the influence of 'green' concerns has been manifest in little more than expressions of concern and statements of intent, which are designed to disguise current unsustainable practices. For others, in contrast, it is reflected in the restructuring of food production systems in ways that support the production of organic food, the development of environmental codes of practice and other initiatives which represent a new policy direction. In this chapter we analyse the different strategies of corporate greening which have emerged throughout the agrifood sector in the Antipodes. In particular, we focus on two food companies - Uncle Tobys in Australia and Heinz Wattie in New Zealand - and examine the specific greening practices of these firms, and the impacts of such practices on producers, consumers and others engaged in food networks. An examination of these changes in the agrifood sector illustrates the various ways in which firms are responding to broader social and environmental challenges facing the agriculture and food industry. In particular, the analysis of these cases draws attention to the role of the production and processing sectors in Australia and New Zealand in developing strategies of corporate greening. This marks a significant contrast to strategies of greening occurring elsewhere, including the UK where retailers have taken the lead in shaping the trajectory of systems of agriculture and food production. The findings from this chapter indicate that while food companies play a significant role in the Antipodean organic food sector - manifest in different ways across each of these locations - their entry to organics, to date, has not heralded a radical transformation of agricultural practices. While growth in the organic sector presents an opportunity to address those environmental and social problems that have emerged alongside the current farm crisis, the activities of food processing companies in the Antipodes have gone only part way to address these challenges.