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Abstract

This paper discusses a number of stylized facts and empirical patterns regarding agri-food trade flows as well as foreign direct investments in food processing and retailing. This evidence supports the hypothesis of an increasingly global food system. We identify the main factors at work such as push/supply side, pull/demand-side, and enabling/external factors. We show how the shift from national to global retailing is a recent phenomenon whose relevance for the globalization of upstream sectors of the food system are not yet appropriately addressed. Broadly, we argue that while the process of food globalization has long been regarded as a process largely dominated by the internationalization of food manufacturing, the emergence of global retailers is a further powerful engine of globalization which will exert a powerful impact with far reaching implications for the competitive environment and the rules of the game in food systems.

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