The regulation of the food industry: towards a new paradigm of competition policy
Principal Investigator - Prof. Ioannis Lianos, Chief Researcher
Alexey Ivanov, Institute Head
Dr. Claudio Lombardi, Research Fellow
The research project will aim to provide the first in depth analysis of the regulation, from a competition policy perspective, of the food retail sector [the food industry] by the BRICS and selected developing countries (including the Eurasian Economic Union). The project will aim to map the structure of the food industry (or the food value chain) in the various jurisdictions, the balance of power between retailers and suppliers representing different elements of the food value chain on both local and global scales, the presence of multi-brand retailers and the origin of these retailers (foreign investors or local retail brands), the interaction between modern (hypermarkets, supermarkets, discount stores, e and m-commerce) and traditional (mum and pope stores) commerce, as well as the impact of these power relations on the existence of specific forms of regulatory or self-regulatory frameworks including standard settings and various food certifications (e.g. fair trade and organic products certification). The original hypothesis explored in this study is that power relations shape the structure of the market and its regulatory framework. Power is meant as referring to (i) situations of neoclassical market power resulting from high concentration of food markets providing the ability to those holding it to affect various parameters of competition (price, quality, variety, innovation), (ii) situations of relational power in view of the bargaining position that some market actors dispose, leading to asymmetrical power, or because of the presence of global networks, and (iii) situations of exclusionary power that again some market actors dispose, either because of unfair commercial practices, the presence of global networks, or because of their links with other spheres of power (e.g. political power). The research project should also help to explore different aspects of transformative innovation in methods of production and distribution which either already changing or have a potential to change the existing power relations in the food industry.
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