Fifteenth Meeting of the UNCTAD Research Partnership Platform

Fifteenth Meeting of the UNCTAD Research Partnership Platform
03 July 2024
10:00 - 13:00 hrs. Room XIX, Palais des Nations
Geneva, Switzerland
, Switzerland

In recent years, the transformation of the global economic trading system has led to the emergence of complex global value chains, challenging policymakers. Food-related global value chains are particularly notable due to their broad impact on efficiency, safety, and environmental issues, affecting stakeholders worldwide. These evolving challenges necessitate continuous scrutiny by policymakers in competition and consumer protection.

The current food system consists of intricate interactions among various stakeholders, including agricultural input providers, producers, and consumers. These often involve ongoing contracts rather than single transactions, with economic implications beyond price, such as quality assessment and payment terms, crucial for competition and consumer protection.

These diverse stakeholders interact in markets that are often highly concentrated, where informational imperfections are the norm and where products are often vertically differentiated. Market power at different stages of the value chain may have different welfare and distributional effects, depending on whether efficiency gains from vertical coordination (important in the presence of extensive search and contracting costs) and horizontal economies of scale result in increased overall welfare and how this is distributed across the different stakeholders. In particular, the effects of concentration are complex and vary across different agricultural value chains, highlighting the importance for policy purposes of using adequate tools to empirically assess whether there is market power abuse or whether changes in market concentration, for example through mergers and acquisitions, can require policy actions by competition and consumer protection (national or supranational) authorities. 

Furthermore, agricultural markets face various shocks affecting supply and demand, which can persistently alter trade prices and quantities along the value chains.


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