Agrifood Globalisation and Commodity Systems



Published Jan 4, 2004
William H. Friedland


Globalization is focused in this paper on agrifood commodities and refers to the processes by which commodities move into long complex chains. Rather than being spatially limited to locality, nation, or region, expanded spatial movements and integration produce a new division of labor and increase distances between production and consumption spatially and socially. The paper focuses on (1) the globality or degree of globalization and (2) the economic concentration of segments of agrifood commodity systems. The first considers the degree to which segments of a commodity system are global, and which aren’t. The second examines economic concentration in commodity systems as they become global. Using empirical cases of tomatoes (processing and fresh) and lettuce, agrifood commodities are shown to be differentially globalized in their various segments. Four commodity systems — frozen concentrated orange juice, wine, fresh fruits and vegetables, and processing tomatoes — are examined to understand the degree to which economic concentration occurs in each systems’ segments. The main conclusion is that globalization and economic concentration occur primarily in segments requiring substantial capital investments. Agriculture itself is rarely globalized but processing, handling, and marketing “beyond the farm gate” become the realm of both globalization and concentration.

How to Cite

H. Friedland, W. 2004. Agrifood Globalisation and Commodity Systems . The International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food. 12, (Jan. 2004), 5-16. DOI:
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