Recent Meetings

Rapid Spread of Supermarkets Changing the Pacific Rim Food System

In May 2005, ERS, the Farm Foundation, and the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council convened a conference in Kunming, China. Conference participants from the public sector, food companies, and academic institutions in 16 Asia-Pacific countries assessed the changing structure of the retail food sector and its impact on the region’s agriculture and trade. While growth in the retail share of supermarkets in developed countries spanned many years, the pace has accelerated in middle-income countries like China, Mexico, and Indonesia. In these rapidly urbanizing markets, consumers are benefiting from lower prices from economies of scale in procurement and distribution and the private enforcement of higher food safety standards. On the other hand, small “mom and pop” shops and wet markets are facing adjustment pressure as are small farmers. Policymakers are looking for ways to enable small producers to compete in a supermarket world by facilitating farm and farmland consolidation and the shift of resources into more remunerative niche activities.

Policy and Competition in a Changing Global Food Industry

In April 2005, ERS, jointly with the Farm Foundation, Pennsylvania State University, and the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association, hosted a conference on “Policy and Competitiveness in a Changing Global Food Industry.” This conference brought together researchers, business people, and policymakers to engage in a structured open discussion on major issues regarding policy and business competitiveness in a rapidly changing global food economy. Discussions focused on factors impacting the competitiveness of food firms, the role of evolving food supply chains on food trade flows, and the role of policy in a global industry dominated by multinational players operating across national boundaries.