Food Safety and Developing Markets: Research Findings and Research Gaps

28 Pages Posted: 7 Jan 2015

See all articles by Laurian J. Unnevehr

Laurian J. Unnevehr

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS)

Loraine Ronchi

World Bank

Date Written: September 10, 2014


To better inform donor support for public food safety interventions, this paper reviews the literature on the impact of more stringent food safety standards on developing-country markets. This literature has primarily focused on the market access and economic implications of higher standards in export markets rather than on the extensive debate around market failure and public health benefits that dominates the literature in developed countries. We find that the market access benefits from compliance with public and private food safety standards are clear, as is the market exclusion that results from noncompliance. These benefits are now well documented, with more recent evidence pointing to added benefits of poverty reduction and spillovers for health and productivity. Rigorous evidence is also found concerning the positive role of technical assistance and public or donor support. Most of the literature, however, has focused on the relatively small market for EU horticultural products, which will provide opportunities for only a fraction of developing-country producers. This narrow focus causes important gaps in the literature informing meaningful public roles in addressing food safety in developing countries. Future research should examine and rigorously evaluate alternative models for how best to support improved food safety management outside of the export channels that have been the focus of the literature thus far. Further, evaluating the impact of public-private approaches on reduction in enforcement costs and improving compliance through supporting industry-led efforts would better inform donor support for food safety reforms, as would research among developing-country consumers with respect to food safety reforms and public health.

Keywords: Food Safety, Compliance Regulations, Developing Countries, Markets, Agricultural Policies, Trade, Trade Policies, Supply Chain

Suggested Citation

Unnevehr, Laurian J. and Ronchi, Loraine, Food Safety and Developing Markets: Research Findings and Research Gaps (September 10, 2014). IFPRI Discussion Paper 1376, Available at SSRN: or

Laurian J. Unnevehr (Contact Author)

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS) ( email )

355 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024-3221
United States
202-694-5401 (Phone)

Loraine Ronchi

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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