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Sucked into the Global Vegetable Oil Complex: Structural Changes in Vegetable Oil Supply Chains in China and India, Compared with the Precedents in Japan

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Food Security and Food Safety for the Twenty-first Century

Abstract

China and India rapidly increased imports of palm oil, and of soybean in the case of China, since the mid-1990s, and they transformed from mostly self-sufficient countries of vegetable oil into the global leading importers. It is commonly suggested that this rapid increase and the concurrent change in diet are caused by increased income, population growth and urbanisation. This research, however, suggests that there have been important policy influences at play in this nutrition transition. The research employs the food regime frameworks (Friedmann and McMichael 1989) to study the historical development of global vegetable oils, especially soybean oil and palm oil, and argues that dissemination of modern vegetable oils began as nonfood use to support industrial development of colonial countries in the first food regime and then their production and consumption were expanded with the active support of nation states in the second food regime. Next, the research studies the policy changes of trade liberalisation in recent China and India in the corporate food regime (McMichael 2005), aiming to depict their roles in the (re)structuring of the supply chains of vegetable oils with examples of instant noodle industry in China and vanaspati industry in India. The conclusion suggests that these countries have not simply increased oil imports but have been consolidated into the globalised vegetable oil complex by replacing domestically produced oilseeds and traditional methods of oil processing. Meanwhile, they have been jeopardising the domestic producers and the public health by increasing the availability of fat in the nation’s diet as a forerunner of nutrition transition.

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Acknowledgements

This presentation is extracted from the MSc dissertation which was submitted to the Centre for Food Policy, City University London, in October 2012. The author would like to express gratitude to David Barling and Tim Lang for their guidance on the dissertation and to Prof. Shuji Hisano at Kyoto University, who kindly supervises this research for a doctoral thesis.

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Correspondence to Midori Hiraga .

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Hiraga, M. (2015). Sucked into the Global Vegetable Oil Complex: Structural Changes in Vegetable Oil Supply Chains in China and India, Compared with the Precedents in Japan. In: Hongladarom, S. (eds) Food Security and Food Safety for the Twenty-first Century. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-287-417-7_16

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