Fruit and vegetable sectors are principally seen as sectors where small producers are able to participate due to their low demand on land and their high labor requirements. However, the concern exists that small producers' participation in the international fruit and vegetable trade could be diminishing as a result of the increasing prevalence of food quality standards in the sector. Standards define the terms of chain membership, imply rules and conditions for participation, and hence lead to processes of (re)distribution within the chain (Gibbon and Ponte, 2005). For some producers, standards may open up new opportunities as they permit market access to particular market segments. At the same time, the process of (re)distributing market shares is accompanied by marginalization and exclusion, as standards may impose prohibitively high barriers for certain producers in terms of the short-term and long-term efforts needed for production under certification. This is particularly relevant since certification with private standards has become a major requirement for participation in fruit and vegetable markets worldwide. One of the most important private standards for fruit and vegetables is the EUREPGAP standard, which has now become quasi-mandatory for several export destinations (USAID, 2005). This paper aims to analyze two particular questions with regard to the distributional effects of standards: 1) which producers comply, and which do not; and 2) why do some producers comply while others do not? With respect to the first question, various surveys have mentioned the particular difficulties facing small producers within this new trading environment (e.g. Humphrey et al. 2004; Kleinwechter and Grethe 2006; Maertens and Swinnen 2006; World Bank 2005). However, most of these surveys have hypothesized that small producers are disadvantaged within the new trading environment on theoretical grounds without actually providing empirical evidence for this assertion.


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