Selasa, 30 Agustus 2011

Food policy

Food policy poses special challenges to public policy. Key features of the contemporary food system, sometimes, to the detriment of health outcomes, are a focus on profits as a primary driver, value-adding, brand image, market share and “efficiency”. Meanwhile in political discourses, health issues are often combined or confounded with safety, rather than recognized as specific population-based indicators. Con icting policies are common, particularly when government subsidies undermine food policies with a potential benefit to public health. An example can be found in policies over fish. Although nutritionists generally encourage consumption of fish, environmental considerations urge if not caution then reduction. Whereas 5% of humanity consumes.
Table 4.2
Largest food corporations, by turnover, 1998 (from FT 500,
Financial Times
, 28 January
1999, excepting Cargill, website:
Sales Profits Chief products Employees

Table 4.3 Some features of the 20th century food revolution
Sector Feature Example Comment
Agriculture Labor efficiency Decline of animal power, Decline in farms, rise
                                                                     replacement by fossil power in size of holdings
Processing Value-adding Sugar and fruit extract added “New adulterations”
to fermented milk
Distribution Creation of entire new Chill systems of storage More long-distance
                                                  sector in modern food food transport
supply chains
Retail Transfer of sales force Electronic Point of Sale Key to supermarket
from direct customer (EPOS) systems using efficiency and
contact laser scanners of “barcodes” logistics control
Catering Bought-in ready-made Soups, gravy mixes De-skilling of cooking
Marketing Search for new niche Low calorie drinks Coexistence of niche
markets by use of using artificial sweeteners and mass markets;
advertising market fragmentation

45% of all meat and fish, the poorest 20% consumes only 5%. North American cod banks are severely depleted and subject to fishing bans, and according to the FAO, 69% of world fish stocks are in a “dire condition”. The FAO sees the problem as the world “having too many vessels or excessive harvesting power in a growing number of fisheries,” yet governments are subsidizing the fish industry an annual $14–20 bn, equivalent to 25% of sector’s revenues (World Trade Organization, 1999).
Food production has changed dramatically over the 20th century. New products, processes (both on and off the land), distribution (supply chain management), and marketing (e.g., advertising) have had major impacts on health, environment, and culture. A spiral has occurred in which changing supply chain features have both fed and reacted to changing aspirations and food culture. Table 4.3 gives illustrations of some key features.
The food economy unfolding worldwide has some features in common. It is characterized by:
•Value-adding – the pursuit of “difference”, i.e., a feature (e.g., packaging, taste, image) to differentiate between one product and another;
•Company mergers and acquisitions leading to high levels of concentration in the food economy;
•Quality, which may be defined cosmetically (by how the food looks or can be sold);
•Brand value – name and marketability are to market success;
•The search for new markets – or “new” to the dominant Western food companies, who desire to open previously untapped markets such as the former Soviet Union, China and India;
•Trader power – with complex supply chains, there appears to be a rule whereby whoever dominates the relationship between primary producers and processors, on the one hand, and end consumers, on the other, is sovereign
Table 4.4
Some policy options
Fragmented policy Systemic solutions
Intensification Diversification
Cost externalization Cost internalization
Marginalization of health  Health central to economics
Food miles More local food
Productionism Sustainability
Individual health Ecological public health
Integrated policy Technical fixes
Short term Long term
Consumerism Citizenship
Health focus mainly on food safety Policy linkage between safety, nutrition and
                                                                                    sustainable food supply

·         A two-tier food economy characterized by large transnational corporations with enormous power on the one hand, and a plethora of small and medium-sized enterprises restricted to local or subnational markets on the other;
·         Social fragmentation – the coexistence of over- and under consumption (see Table 4.4).


Posting Komentar