Transnational Food and Beverage Corporations, Food Systems Transformations and the Nutrition Transition in Asia
27 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2015
Date Written: 2015
Levels of ultra-processed food consumption in Asian middle-income countries is increasing rapidly and converging with levels consumed in high-income countries. In this paper we investigate whether these consumption patterns reflect underlying changes in food systems driven by transnational food and beverage corporations (TFBCs) in the grocery retail, manufacturing and chained food service sectors. Through their considerable market power TFBCs can shape global and local food systems in ways that alter the availability, price, nutritional quality, desirability and ultimately consumption of such foods. The results presented here demonstrate that Asian markets have become increasingly penetrated by TFBCs and that this is highest in the ultra-processed food categories. It further demonstrates that market concentration, whereby increasing market share and thus market power is held by a declining number of firms, is also increasing in the same sectors and categories. However there is wide variability between countries as well as between the three sectors suggesting variable implications for nutrition and public health across the region. Overall, the findings suggest that market forces are likely to be significant but variable drivers of Asia’s nutrition transition and that policy intervention outside of the health sector is warranted.
Keywords: Transnational food and beverage corporations, foreign investment, market power, processed foods, nutrition transition, Asia
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