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Supermarket-Led Development and the Neglect of Traditional Food Value Chains: Reflections on Indonesia’s Agri-Food System Transformation

Thomas Vetter (), Marianne Nylandsted Larsen () and Thilde Bech Bruun ()
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Thomas Vetter: Anthropology Institute, University of Neuchâtel, 2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Marianne Nylandsted Larsen: Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Section for Geography, University of Copenhagen, 1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark
Thilde Bech Bruun: Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Section for Geography, University of Copenhagen, 1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark

Sustainability, 2019, vol. 11, issue 2, 1-18

Abstract: The rapid expansion of modern food retail encapsulated in the so-called ‘supermarket revolution’ is often portrayed as a pivotal driving force in the modernization of agri-food systems in the Global South. Based on fieldwork conducted on horticulture value chains in West Java and South Sulawesi, this paper explores this phenomenon and the concerted efforts that government and corporate actors undertake with regard to agri-food value chain interventions and market modernization in Indonesia. The paper argues that after more than 15 years of ‘supermarket revolution’ in Indonesia, traditional food retail appears not to be in complete demise, but rather adaptive and resilient to its modern competitors. The analysis of local manifestations of supermarket-led agricultural development suggests that traditional markets can offer certain advantages for farmers over supermarket-driven value chains. The paper further identifies and discusses two areas that have so far been neglected by research and policymaking and which warrant further investigation: (i) the simultaneous transformations in traditional food value chains and their relation to modern markets, and (ii) the social and environmental performances of modern vis-à-vis traditional food value chains.

Keywords: value chains; development; supermarkets; traditional markets; Indonesia (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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