Policy ForumAgriculture

Research Principles for Developing Country Food Value Chains

Science  03 Jun 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6034, pp. 1154-1155
DOI: 10.1126/science.1202543

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Food value chains (FVCs) comprise all activities required to bring farm products to consumers, including agricultural production, processing, storage, marketing, distribution, and consumption. FVCs are changing rapidly in developing countries (DCs), because of population and income growth; urbanization; and the expansion, globally and domestically, of modern food retailing, distribution, and wholesaling firms (1, 2). One such change is that consumers and regulators increasingly demand product-specific characteristics beyond price—including nutrient content; food safety certification; and indicators of impacts on natural resources, greenhouse gas emissions, and farmworkers. To accommodate these multidimensional demands, regulators and firms are developing new multiattribute product labeling and production standards. We outline below ways in which scientists must integrate existing disciplinary evidence into rigorous models and must develop measures and methods to evaluate the multidimensional performance of FVCs.