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The Future of the Food System: Cases Involving the Private Sector in South Africa

Author: Laura M. Pereira
Organisation: Harvard University
Publish Date: March 2013
Country: South Africa
Sector: Agriculture
Method: Casual layered analysis
Theme: Food
Type: Case Study
Language: English
Tags: Food systems, Food value chains, Global environmental change, Socio-ecological systems, Food security, Governance, Corporate strategy

With a large proportion of sub-Saharan African countries’ GDP still heavily reliant on agriculture, global trends in agri-food business are having an increasing impact on African countries. South Africa, a leader in agribusiness on the continent, has a well-established agri-food sector that is facing increasing pressure from various social and environmental sources. This paper uses interview data with corporate executives from South African food businesses to explore how they are adapting to the dual pressures of environmental change and globalisation. It shows that companies now have to adapt to macro-trends both within and outside the formal food sector and how this in turn has repercussions for building sustainable farming systems—both small and large-scale. It concludes with the recognition that building a sustainable food system is a complex process involving a diversity of actors, however changes are already being seen. Businesses have strategically recognised the need to align the economic bottom line with social and environmental factors, but real sustainability will only happen when all stakeholders are included in food governance.
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