Paper reproduction signed by Cepea researchers is allowed provided the following is mentioned: author's name, author's professional qualification and affiliation to Cepea as well as the publication date on this page.

From Fordism to post-Fordism: what is the role of certifications in agriculture, livestock and agroindustry?

Production and trades of foods have gained increasing importance in economic and social debates since the 1950’s, since when European countries and the United States have been concerned with policies to encourage agriculture and livestock production. The “Farm Bill” in the United States and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the European Union were created to ensure access of the population to staple food, allaying the ghost of scarcity during the periods of the Great Wars and the crisis in the 1930’s.


Agriculture went through a period of production and productivity increase, using a new technological package: agricultural mechanization, chemical fertilizers, efficient pesticides and improved seeds. This “Green Revolution” had a deep impact on supply of fresh and agroindustrialized foods worldwide. This was to mark the Fordist period in agriculture and livestock, characterized by standardization of processes and supply at large scale of food commodities.


Fordism in agriculture lasted from 1960’s to 1990’s, when European, American and Japanese consumers became more demanding for food characteristics, ranging from production to nutritional and taste factors.


Initially, the most relevant consumption niche was organic foods: food produced without the use of fertilizers and pesticides, antibiotics and growth promoters. Another niche in the food market is the Fair Trade, which values production from family farming and craftsmen, favoring fair remuneration to these workers. These products are traded at higher prices compared to conventional ones and at specific stores.


These market segments are increasing significantly in developed and emerging countries and have encouraged the expansion of global supply, as they are based on consumers’ concerns with production conditions, producers’ revenue, environment preservation, reduction of the use of chemicals, among other aspects.


However, these products require “certification” to be traded, because consumers cannot differentiate an organic or Fair Trade product from a conventional one. Therefore, certifying companies ensure that production follows practices required by each label, after a process analysis and scheduled visits. The certification means more costs for producers, which can be offset by higher selling prices than conventional foods.


To date, higher remuneration and profitability are considered appealing to producers. However, apparently, there is a downward trend in the gain paid for these products. In part, this can be related to the supply increase of food with socioenvironmental labels that guarantee compliance of productive process with environmental and social laws in the country of origin. This trend would be a discouragement for producers due to high costs.


However, results of studies performed by researchers from Cepea, Esalq/USP, Imaflora and the Post-Graduation Program on Applied Economics from Esalq show that agricultural certification has benefits that were not observed in previous research. Production yield and management tend to improve with certification and generate important benefits to producers. Therefore, crop profitability increases and enables producers to cover certification costs, which allows them to trade their products at prices similar to those of conventional foods.


Another relevant aspect is that certification of farms reduces environmental and social risks, improving the access to credit.


Overall, research shows that certification brings improvements to management procedures and products, increasing operational results at farms and allowing sales of a differentiated product for market niches that prioritize quality.


A complete understanding of the certification effects on agriculture is still far; besides, affirming that it will be a requirement to productive chains in periods of differentiated food markets is also farfetched. Further research is needed for a better understanding and better planning of the activity. For the time being, it is hoped that supply of coffee, fruits, cheese, meat, sugar and other certified foods increase, leading to healthier eating habits and tastier foods.


*Click here for more information on Gephac (in Portuguese).

04/10/2021 - Brazilian fruit exports are likely to hit USD 1 billion in 2021 - Fernanda Geraldini 27/09/2021 - Crop failure and higher demand boost quotes in the 2021/22 season - Ivelise Rasera Bragato Calcidoni 14/09/2021 - Changes in the global market for cassava and byproducts and opportunities for Brazil - Fábio Isaias Felipe 31/08/2021 - Fertilizer prices at high levels challenge producers - Mauro Osaki 23/08/2021 - Why don't we eat more fruits and vegetables? - Margarete Boteon 17/08/2021 - The Cattle Team: beyond the Index - Shirley Martins Menezes Svazati 26/07/2021 - Corn futures, regional pricing and risk management - Lucilio Rogerio Aparecido Alves 12/07/2021 - Risk of blackout crisis and electric power rationing: back to the future? - Heloisa Lee Burnquist and Danielle Mendes Thame Denny 14/06/2021 - Importance and complexity of agribusiness in Brazil - Gabriel Costeira Machado 19/04/2021 - Food security and Brazil's role in the global food supply - Andréia Adami 18/03/2021 - Labor market and the pandemic: agribusiness' resilience through crisis - Felipe Miranda de Souza Almeida 22/02/2021 - History, challenges and the importance of Cepea's milk research - Natália Grigol 17/02/2021 - Agricultural commodities: a new boom? - Geraldo Barros 01/02/2021 - Price oscillations for grains, fiber and tubers: from farmers to the retail market - Lucilio Rogerio Aparecido Alves 25/11/2020 - Brazil continues competitive in the world cattle farming - Thiago Bernardino de Carvalho

Preencha o formulário para realizar o download
Deseja receber informações do Cepea?

Type this code in the field next to