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Global food system and food security: Home exam

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Global food system and food security: Home exam

There is currently a huge trend of applying standards and certifications as tools to improve both food quality for the consumer and the ecological and social conditions of agricultural production. We will discuss why these tools have become so popular at present and the advantages and disadvantages for consumers, producers and the food regimes at large.

After several health catastrophes in the twenty century, the agri-food companies have been reflected about how to reassure the population. On the one hand, food companies have had to react to food scandals. These companies have two functions: to produce products that are safe and of good quality. Thus they had to impose methods and standards to avoid another scandal. These methods and norms are standards and obligations to have.  All these norms and standards aim to meet the growing concerns of consumers in various fields: environmental protection, fair trade, animal welfare, taste quality, and so on. To control the respect of public norms and private standards, the system the most common is independent certification. On the other hand, the problems linked to global warming are intensifying and becoming public issues. People are concerned about the future of the environment and the quality of the products they eat. The notions of well-being and eating well have appeared. Thus farmers have changed the production method to adopt a healthier agriculture for the land but also for consumers. These changes are visible through certifications and labels. Moreover, in the twentieth century, globalization has never been stronger and more present. This implies very tough competition on food products. To be able to stand out, distributors and producers have started to promote these certifications and labels. However, this marketing war has led to an over-use of these tools (certification, labels). One of the consequences for consumers has been a loss of confidence in their meaning. This profound change in our food regime is the result of a change in the mentality of the people. We are changing our habits (digital, climate, mental environment). mentalities, consumption trends influence the evolution of the way of producing and selling. The system we are in is ephemeral, it is in perpetual evolution. Certificates, labels are the result of current policy, they will no longer be the trend in the future generation. Standards and certifications had become so popular as tools due to these current circumstances.

        In this second part, advantages and disadvantages of these tools will be explain


  1. For producers
  • Economic:  First of all, these tools allow to sell the final product with a higher price and with the higher profit margin. Then it creates a diversification among the same family of product. This diversification of same product exists to fight against the brand competition. These tools are additional selling point. At the end, certification and labels have an economic benefit thanks to the marketing strategy. The market for labelled or certified products is a safer market than the ordinary market. It allows a certain security of sale and to reduce the problems of price volatility (very present in the agricultural universe). A significant part of consumers pay attention to the citizen engagement of companies when they bought product.                          Moreover, some certification in agriculture can reduce the production cost by reducing inputs like is true in organic farm. Then in some countries, to helps farmers to have access to certain labels, they can get some subventions.
  • Sociological: Farmers want to give their work and worth into their product. Labels are here to promote these efforts, to reflect the quality of the work and the quality of the product. In parallel, certification and labels, can be seen as a rewards, as a personal satisfaction for farmers.  Label as animal welfare, fair trade, without GMO reflect a strong determination from the producers to have a good conscience.  
  • Environmental: Some labels or certifications are related to environmental impacts. These tools are here to showcase the environmental work that farmer do. Organic agriculture, sustainable agriculture certified that farmers respect the environment into their technical itinerary (all practices made by the farmer to produce products).

  1. For consumers
  • Economic: In terms of purchases, consumers will spend more on labelled or certified products than on normal products. However, these products are a guarantee of quality. Investment in good quality food, will reduce costs related to consumer health.
  • Sociological: First, consumers get value for their money. It means that consumers know what they buying (they expect a good taste, a good quality). That is the mentality of consumers when they bought labelled or certified products. Then, consumers of these tools support the cause of "saving the environment". Because a huge part of the population did not work in agriculture sector, they want to contribute to the environment cause by buying labelled and certificated products. As many media reports say, certified products pay farmers more fairly and consumers wants to help them.  
  • Environmental: contribute to the development of more eco-friendly brands by their buying patterns.


  1. For producers
  • Economic:  First of all, the price of the certification or labels.                                           The cost of the certification will be seen in the final product price and some consumers may don't want to buy because it is become too expensive.      Production cost higher due to the quality and methods used so higher price of raw materials/products. Some labels lack visibility compared to others due to a weak communication.
  • Sociological:  to get the certification, a certain time must be accorded to "paper", administrative tasks, for the whole farmers is a "waste of time".     The certification is based on the respect of some obligations according to the field work or the quality of the final product, however, the labelling does not take care about the worker conditions.
  • Environmental: The certification or labels related to environment do not brings somethings particular. (except the fact you can sell your product with a higher price). however, if you do not have this certification or following standards, the fine is very expensive. This fine are here to change the spirit and the mentality of people. it is here to change the food regime (extensive agriculture to a reasonable and good thinking agriculture). Few farmers convert to environmental certifications more for economic attractiveness rather than for strong personal conviction.

  1. For consumers
  • Economic:  the cost of the food is increasing so for the same purchasing power; you get less quantity but often more quality. To afford certificated and labelled product, you need to have a great purchasing power. Not all consumers can afford the luxury of consuming only certified or labelled products.  
  • Sociological: Due to this huge trend for the label and certifications, some consumers are lost and have not more trust in the meaning of the labels in product. That is why much of the people if they can (geographical position and economical aspect) are heading towards local markets where they can discuss with the farmers and can be comforted and create a good relation of trust or some organisation which are selling food coming from local farmers. It is simply important to know which organization and which individuals are responsible for the certifications we rely on, as well as what their personal interests are (labels can be finance without proof that the product is with good quality or eco-friendly).
  • Environmental: none

How labels, standards and certifications change the way we consume and produce? These tools are the result of several factors related to the economy, consumer trends, environmental issues and food issues. Labels meet consumer demand. For example, the rise of the vegan and halal labels are due to a trend and a demand doubled by an important communication. Tomorrow, food regime will be modified by the importance of food waste and the rise of entomophagy. The food regime evolves with the population and its needs. States and large agribusiness companies can change the way we eat through their influence and power. Any change will only be possible if there is an economic and financial gain.


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