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Abstract

The development of supermarkets in Vietnam, as in other emerging countries, goes along with an increasing concern on the part of purchasers for food quality. The paper investigates whether farmer organisations are able to help small-scale farmers get access to supermarkets, and the role that supermarkets and public support play in their emergence and development. It is based on case studies involving a number of stakeholders marketing vegetables, flavoured rice and litchi fruit in Vietnam. The interviews investigated patterns of horizontal and vertical coordination that link farmers to supermarkets, the distribution of costs and benefits between farmers and traders along the chains in relation to the strategy of quality differentiation. Eight farmer associations that work in the form of private commercial organisations are regular supermarket suppliers for the selected products. Their ability to supply supermarkets is related to the combination of functions they make available to their members, especially as regards training to improve quality (appearance, taste, safety), quality promotion and control, for which they receive public support, as well as their participation in flexible contracts with supermarkets, shops and schools. Supermarket supply through farmer associations increases farmer incomes when compared with traditional chains, yet the situation is reported to change with the increase in supermarket competition. The paper argues that changes in farmer organisation are not only due to supplying supermarkets, but also to public and international support to food quality improvement, which have been of benefit to supermarkets.

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