Production under G1oba1GAP: A case study from an Australian citrus cooperative
Private food standards are an increasingly important regulatory mechanism in the agri-food system. Driven by quality demands of consumers, high profile food scares, changes to the legislative requirements of retailers and increasing risk in global supply chains, retailers are frequently involved in the development of private food standards, and their enforcement along supply chains. This new role for retailers as de facto gate keepers for quality and production processes points to an increase in power of this group.
Regulation theory provides a useful perspective from which to contextualise the economic and regulatory changes that have created an environment in which retailers have both the incentive, and the ability, to impose their requirements throughout the supply chain. This theory suggests that the neo-liberal agendas pursued by many developed nations have not led to a deregulation of production but have created space for re -regulation which has been taken up by global organisations attempting to remain profitable and grow in a highly competitive operating environment. While there is a great deal of enquiry regarding the limitations and opportunities these private standards create for marginal farmers, little has been revealed about the ways in which those producers based in developed countries have been affected. The actor approach provides a framework for the consideration of producers, empowering them and positing that they are not passive recipients of the changes occurring around them.
This thesis examines how the development of GlobalGAP, a private food standard developed by a consortium of many of Europe's largest retailing chains, shaped the production relations of an Australian Citrus producers cooperative. The hypothesis at the heart of this study is that while GlobalGAP may be evidence for a strengthening of the market power of retailers, as well as a mechanism through which retailers can reassert this market power to downstream supply chain actors, producers will have nuanced and varying responses. This suggests that although some producers may be unwilling or unable to certify to the standard, others will successfully negotiate GlobalGAP and incorporate its' requirements in standard business practice. Those that do may benefit from doing so through, for example, increased market access or more streamlined business practices.