Seminar Paper, 2008, 13 Pages
1. Theoretical Approach
1.1. Definition Regimes
1.2. Definition Food Regimes
2. Historical development of the Food Regimes
2.1. The First Food Regime
2.1.2 The Collapse
2.2. The Second Food Regime
2.2.2. The Norms
2.2.3. Foundation of Food Organizations
2.2.4. The Collapse
2.3.2. Future Development
3. Conclusion and Concept Critics
This chapter concentrates on the theoretical approach of Food Regimes. Therefore it takes first a closer look on the general definition of regimes and concentrates then on the definition of Food Regimes.
“Regimes are social institutions governing the actions of those involved in specifiable activities or sets of activities.” And furthermore “they are practices consisting of recognized roles linked together by clusters of rules or conventions governing relations among the occupants of these roles” (Young 1989: 12 – 13).
This definition will help to understand the topic about ‘Food Regimes’, as the theory of regimes is one of the main aspects to analyze the historical development of this special kind of regimes.
Food Regimes are historical phenomena and the theory aims to classify several movements in the international food business. Harriet Friedmann, whose research work concentrates on Food Regimes, defines international Food Regime as “relatively bounded historical periods in which convergent expectations govern the behavior of farmers, firms, and workers engaged in all aspects of food growing, manufacturing, services, distribution, and sales, as well as government agencies, citizens and consumers” (Friedmann 2006: 4). Another definition declares the Food Regime analysis as the effort “to understand the governing principles underpinning the world food system” (Haroon 2007, date of retrieval: 14.08.2008). Therefore the relations among countries, companies and the population are analyzed. Whereas the population can act in this relationship as buyer, seller as well as producer, in case if they are farmers. So these relationships fall into certain periods, which maintain for a time, but are temporarily limited, regarding the constellation of relationships and interests (Friedmann 2006: 1). According to Friedmann, these regimes “emerge out of crises”, and force to think about “alternative ways to organize power and poverty” (Friedmann 2006: 1).
The Food Regime regulates international activity affecting production, distribution and consumption of food. Thus the activity of the Food Regime includes food trade, food aid, international financing for rural development areas and agricultural research. As these effects are potent in nearly every country of the world, the concept of the Food Regime is treating the food system as integral to the expansion and transformation of the global economy (Krasner 1983: 76).
This chapter concentrated on the historical development of the several Food Regimes by analyzing their specific characterization and the reasons why they collapsed.
The First Food Regime has been dated in the period between 1870 and 1914. Therefore this Food Regime is also called the “diasporic-colonial Food Regime” (Friedmann 2006: 6)
The First Food Regime was basically influenced by an extensive form of capitalist development, which was based upon an expansion in the resources. This resource rise emerged due to increased land and labor brought into the market (Hoggart 1992: 31). Capitalist investment, e.g. in the railway building, enabled this settlement and movement of labor, which was in addition supported by a massive recruitment policy. This additional manpower was needed, as conquered land was used for farming.
Furthermore the First Food Regime was characterized by commercial farms, run by family labor (Friedmann 2006: 6).
The aim of the First Food Regime was to supply cheap food, in order to meet the need of a growing European proletariat. As a main supplier in this Food Regime, the United States acted almost as a monopolist (Hoggart 1992: 31).
This consistent demand for cheap food, a reduction of food costs for the urban population in Europe, causes a “downward spiral of falling prices” and thus a “crisis of European agriculture” (Friedman 2006: 7). Small farmers, especially the family-ridden farms, could not compete any more, as they were not able to go with these decreasing prices. They had no other chance, than to leave their land in hopes to find a work to survive. These led to a further immigration to grain export regions, e.g. North America, away from Europe. This misery was mainly caused by the non- capitalist structure of the family-ridden farms, which could not manage these decreasing prices (Friedmann 2006: 7).
So to summarize, this collapse of the First Food Regime emerged due to the falling commodity prices for food, and in addition due to protectionism. The end of the First Food Regime is in the inter-war period (Hoggart 1992: 29).
The origin of the Second Food Regime lies in the collapse of the world economy in the 1930s. The period between 1940 and 1970 was the time of the Second Food Regime. Thus the Second Food Regime is also called the “Mercantile-Industrial Food Regime” (Friedmann 2006: 77).
The Second Food Regime is also characterized by an intensive capitalist extension, which is not emerged by the use of extra land and extra labor, like in the First Food Regime, but through the adoption of new technologies. This new technologies were possible due to an increase in agricultural research and development. As an effect, durable foods and other foods, like exotic fruits, were introduced to the market. Thus retailers could increase their turnover and generate a better profitability with these new products, which led to an increase in farm production and to an expansion of internationalized food for mass markets (Hoggart 1992: 31).
Furthermore the appearance of private capitalist companies was the motor of this Food Regime. As recovering the farming industry was defined an economic and politic necessity and a main goal, this large increase in private industry, who acted transnational, boost the agricultural production. In order to maintain an internationalized operation, export subsidies, declared as ‘aid’, were introduced. This aid should also break the domination of the United States, who held large agricultural stocks and thus were able to steer the world’s business for agricultural products, and allow new countries to participate in this market (Friedmann 2006: 11).
So new technologies and export subsidies encouraged countries with natural advantages to specialize in agricultural production, as food could be transported over a longer distance and subsidies guaranteed the profitability (Hoogart 1992: 31).
The Second Food Regime was the beginning of new actors in the market for food. Less developed countries were now attractive for investments, due to the fact that they had a natural advantage for certain products and enough manpower to produce the need for food for advanced economies. Thus the invention of durable foods supported this, as transportation over long distance was made possible. This effect encouraged the foundation of transnational food companies, who started to operate global, in order to meet the demand for standardized products for mass consumption. With an extended range of normal, durable and exotic foods they aimed to attract the consumer, and thus to increase their turnover. These transnational food companies arranged the buying of inputs and distributed them to consumers all over the world. Therefore they differentiated consumers by their taste and income, and offered diversified products (Hoggart 1992: 30).
But nonetheless the Second Food Regime, like the first one, was still influenced by the central role of the United States and Canada, although efforts like export subsidies tried to break this role (Hoggart 1992: 30).
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