Questo numero monografico di «Meridiana» è dedicato all’analisi dei sistemi agroalimentari italiani e delle loro trasformazioni. Esso riunisce contributi basati su studi empirici che si occupano di vari aspetti, processi e contesti legati alla produzione e circolazione del cibo, utilizzando diversi approcci teorici del campo delle scienze sociali, in particolare legati alla analisi dei food regimes e delle global value chains, e diversi strumenti metodologici, prevalentemente di tipo qualitativo. Attraverso interviste in profondità e osservazioni etnografiche, queste ricerche attraversano non solo uliveti siciliani, frutteti calabresi, allevamenti ovicaprini sardi, vigne piemontesi, serre nella Piana del Sele e campi di pomodoro pugliesi e lucani; ma anche salumifici emiliani, conservifici campani, mercati ortofrutticoli all’origine della fascia costiera trasformata siciliana. Vengono descritti gli effetti dei processi di ristrutturazione nella globalizzazione agroalimentare e delle forme di regolazione e governo che attraversano e contribuiscono a definire i sistemi di produzione e distribuzione del cibo. Gli articoli, nel loro complesso, evidenziano quattro aspetti principali. In primo luogo, essi analizzano la convivenza e la sovrapposizione tra il modello agricolo produttivista e quello post-produttivista, spesso all’interno della medesima catena del valore. In secondo luogo, essi confermano, apportando nuovi elementi di conoscenza, che lo sfruttamento del lavoro (in particolare migrante), è una delle strategie più importanti per l’abbattimento dei costi di produzione, sia nella fase agricola sia in quella industriale. In terzo luogo, mostrano l’importanza della grande distribuzione come soggetto in grado di orientare il sistema produttivo, nel caso di produzioni sia industriali sia di qualità. Infine, propongono l’idea che i sistemi agroalimentari vadano analizzati attraverso la lente dei conflitti – celati o evidenti – che li attraversano, legati ai modelli di agricoltura, agli interessi divergenti, alle asimmetrie di potere, alle diverse rappresentazioni che ne danno gli attori coinvolti. Gli studi raccolti in questo numero, quindi, invitano sia a evitare la lettura di un processo lineare e inevitabile di «modernizzazione» dell’agricoltura italiana sia a dubitare che il modello post-produttivista e la «svolta della qualità» si configurino come una soluzione scontata ai problemi di sopravvivenza delle piccole e medie imprese agricole e un modo per avviare processi di sviluppo rurale. I sistemi agroalimentari italiani vanno analizzati invece come spazi di intersezione tra agricolture diverse, nei quali attori, modelli produttivi e organizzativi si confrontano, si sovrappongono e confliggono tra loro, a livello economico, culturale e politico. Da ciò ricaviamo non solo indicazioni di metodo per l’analisi, ma anche di azione, quella rivendicata ad esempio dai movimenti sociali e contadini contemporanei, per la promozione di pratiche agroecologiche, modelli organizzativi e politiche pubbliche per sistemi agroalimentari e territori sostenibili.
Introduzione. Per un’analisi critica delle filiere e dei sistemi agroalimentari in Italia
Alessandra Corrado, Martina Lo Cascio, Domenico Perrotta
This contribution introduces the monographic issue of «Meridiana» devoted to the study of the transformations of Italian agri-food systems over the last three decades in a social science perspective. First, it describes four transformations in Italian agri-food system, through a reference to quantitative data, concerning the structure of farms, the changes in farm labour, the increasing role of supermarket chains in the distribution system, the growth in «quality» productions. Second, it recalls the contribution of international agri-food studies for a deeper understanding of the Italian case, with a particular reference to the global value chain approach and the food regime analysis. Third, this introduction critically reviews the most relevant findings of Italian recent debate on agri-food restructuring. Finally, it summarizes the main original elements given by articles to such debate for a critical comprehension of the contemporary transition. In particular, such contributions concern: the intertwinement between productivist and post-productivist agriculture models; the importance of the reduction of labour costs in the strategies of both farms and food industries; the role of retailers in imposing prices, production standards and organizational models in the agri-food systems; the analysis of conflicts, tensions and actors’ representations in the agri-food systems.
Keywords: Food regimes; Value chains; Post-productivist transition; Made in Italy food.
L’analisi dei food regimes
Food regime analysis is incomplete in its observation/scrutiny and its scope, needing to deepen its attention to ecological transformations and grounded instances of the regime process at large. This article focuses on contemporary processes of agri-food chain universalization, combined with various forms of land grabbing and agro-exporting, generating changing patterns of food provisioning, labor mobilities and land use. Finally, it examines «post-WTO» public-private power restructuring in dynamic tension with an evolving food sovereignty movement and deepening alternative food system ecologies.
Keywords: Agri-food chain; Land enclosure; Migrant labor; Agro-exports.
This contribution focuses on the transformations that took place since the 1990s in the organization of the production processes in the meat-processing industry in the province of Modena (Italy) and on the effects of these transformations on working conditions and on the capacity for workers’ collective action in this sector. The article shows how the companies in the sector have increasingly outsourced large segments of the production process, generally to cooperative enterprises in which workers of foreign origin are employed. These new organizational structures allow a significant reduction of labour costs, and guarantee contracting companies a greater flexibility. At the same time, the fragmentation of production processes led to an increasing segmentation of working conditions between direct and contracted workers, and to the growth of low-paid and vulnerable jobs in subcontracting companies, particularly through the diffusion of phenomena of normative avoidance, strengthened by the normative interventions of the State. These processes also made the development of solidarity between different groups of workers, the exercise of forms of collective action, and the action of trade unions more difficult, even though new representation strategies and new actors are emerging for representing vulnerable workers. The article is based upon 26 in-depth interviews, realized in 5 companies between 2015 and 2018.
Keywords: Outsourcing, Worker cooperatives, Food Processing, Emilia-Romagna (Italy).
This article explores the tension between agro-industrial production and the discourses on typical and quality food, through an analysis of the pomodori pelati (whole peeled canned tomatoes) production in Southern Italy. On the one hand, pomodori pelati are widely considered – and marketed – as a «typical» production; on the other, both farming and canning processes have an industrial character, and lost their link with the «traditional» production. The analysis is based upon 32 in-depth interviews, collected between 2010 and 2018 with farmers, representatives of farmers’ organizations, technicians and owners of canneries, retail chains’ employees, regional administrations’ officials, in various Italian regions. The article argues that, first, the most part of the actors in the supply chain do not represent such production as «traditional» and acknowledge its industrial character; second, some actors consider pelati as a low-quality production and accuse their counterpart in the supply chain for their unfair production practices; third, over the last years a niche production of San Marzano-Dop pelati, which are represented as «truly traditional», emerged. In conclusion, it is noted that producers – farmers and cannery owners and technicians – do not seem to agree with the discourses on quality food, while retailers appear as the actors that drive both the industrial and traditional production.
Keywords: Industrial tomatoes; Southern Italy; Corporate-environmental food regime; Qualitative research.
This article analyses the production and distribution of table olives, focusing in particular on the province of Trapani, in Western Sicily, where the 47% of the Italian production is concentrated and, over the last years, the «Nocellara del Belìce» protected denomination of origin (Pdo) was institutionalised. The study was conducted through ethnographic methodologies, in particular participant observation of the precarious settlements of the mainly Senegalese seasonal labourers, and 60 in-depth interviews with workers, farmers, traders, processors, institutional actors, between 2014 and 2018. First, by using the food regime approach, this contribution reconstructs three phases of the history of this value chain since the 1940s, with a focus on the figure (and transformations) of the so-defined «Neapolitan» traders, who are considered as the «inventors» of the Nocellara table olive. Then, two features of the last phase are considered. Concerning the construction of the «quality» of this product, it is argued that the institutionalization of the Pdo has favoured the most powerful actors in the chain, namely the «Neapolitan» traders and the retail chains, while the small-scale olive producers remained subaltern. Finally, the common representation of «Neapolitan» traders as Mafiosi is questioned, and the recent rise of «antimafia» productions is addressed.
Keywords: Typical food; Food regime analysis; Antimafia; Ethnography.
The article investigates the functioning of the Sardinian sheep dairy system as part of a global value chain whose components are mostly dependent on milk prices’ fluctuations in the global market. The low milk profitability is due to the mono-production of Pecorino Romano, a low-cost cheese destined to a mass market, highly standardized, easy to imitate and subject to price volatility. Moreover, in the sheep dairy chain, processing and food retailing industries have a monopolistic role and cause a squeeze of the profit margins of the local shepherds. In this framework, we analyse the resilience strategies of the local agro-pastoral system, based on traditional and new everyday practices to contrast the growing dependency of the external outputs and the global market, anchoring the farm household income to the territory. The article presents the results of a qualitative research based on 80 in-depth interviews (mainly with shepherds) and ethnographic observations of farms in various areas of Sardinia.
Keywords: Pastoralism; Sheep dairy chain; Resilience; Global food market.
Cooperazione, coordinamento, opportunismo. La filiera del Moscato d’Asti
Davide Donatiello, Valentina Moiso
This paper is focused on the regulation and distribution of value along the agri-food chain of the Moscato grapes in Piedmont region, where two among the most important Italian Docg (Controlled and Guaranteed Denomination of Origin) wines (in terms of exports) are produced. On the one hand, the Docg certification guarantees the territorial rootedness of this agri-food chain, delimiting the production and transformation of the Moscato grape in a specific area. On the other hand, as a strategic instrument for quality certification at a commercial level, it contributes to expose this area to the influence of external actors. This article contends that the action of some global players in the beverage sector – oriented towards industrialized production and large-scale retail trade – has induced a reconfiguration of the relationships among different actors involved in this agri-food chain and a redefinition of their economic bargaining practices. These processes resulted in a more unequal distribution of the value compared to the past. The article explores in particular the agreements defining the purchase of grapes between farmers and processors, highlighting the progressive transition from the cooperation between local actors to the need of a coordination, which is brokered by opportunist actors.
Keywords: Agri-food chain; Viticulture; Wine production; Food regime analysis.
Organic agriculture has experienced an important and progressive growth, first as a movement alternative to the hegemony of the agro-industrial model, then through a process of institutionalization and mainstreaming of sustainability and quality, in national as well as European policies, and within market strategies, under the environmental-corporate food regime. However, international studies have detected a process of conventionalization of organic agriculture, to the detriment of its economic, social and environmental sustainability. The objective of this article is to question the change dynamics that organic agriculture in Calabria is undergoing, by evaluating the role of certification systems, the relationship with large-scale retail trade, the vertical and horizontal integration of agri-food chains, the condition of wage labourers. It is argued that in Italy, as well as in other countries, process of conventionalization of the organic agri-food within the mechanisms of value chains is underway. The analysis is based on a research activity carried out in Calabria between 2013 and 2018, through interviews to different actors.
Keywords: Organic agriculture; Conventionalization; Retailers; Food regimes.
This article contributes to the debate on the conflict between peasant and commercial agriculture, focusing in particular on the growth of organic production in Italy and its ambiguous position between these two farming models. The article focuses on the regulation of seeds on the attempt of the organic sector to «appropriate» the peasant seeds, through their registration and privatization. Organic agriculture and the agroecological movement emerged, respectively in the 1970s, and 1980s, as a response to the processes of modernization of the rural areas and industrialization of agriculture, through the recovery of traditional knowledge and continuous innovation and dynamic management of biodiversity in the fields. Since then, organic agriculture has been growing to the point of competing in the conventional market; nonetheless, it has failed in re-thematizing the production model outside the industrial, commercial, and conventional agriculture. This failure has been exposing the organic sector to an increasing competitive pressure; moreover, in Italy this sector suffers the lack of an adequate production of organic seeds. The reaction of the Italian organic farming sector has been the attempt of a new enclosure on genetic resources feeding biodiversity, which are at the base of the peasant farming model. The case of the Senatore Cappelli wheat exemplifies the effects of such processes.
Keywords: Organic farming; seeds; Senatore Cappelli wheat; Agroecology.
Ready-to-be-consumed fruit and vegetables have growingly spread in the last two decades. In Italy, the production of the «fourth range» (ready-to-eat fresh-cut vegetable) is concentrated in the provinces of Bergamo and Salerno (Piana del Sele). In the latter area, the 50-60% of the Italian fourth-range salads is produced. Since the late 1990s, the diffusion of this production has been changing the economic and technological landscape of the Piana del Sele, its labour market and the relationships within the supply chain, orienting the local agriculture towards non-local and international markets. This article describes such transformations, by using statistical data and then focusing on both the power relations in the supply chain and the role of labour. The article is based on a research study realized between 2013 and 2017 in the Piana del Sele, through an ethnography with migrant workers and interviews with farmers, especially those involved in the fourth-range production, as well as with representatives of farmers’ associations.
Keywords: Supply chain relationships; Agricultural enclaves; Agricultural labour.
The article aims at understanding the set of meanings, norms, values and ties affecting the everyday work of different types of brokers employed within a fruit and vegetable market. The case study is represented by a market located in Vittoria, the centre of the so-called Transformed Littoral Strip, in South-Eastern Sicily. The local agricultural district hosts several workplaces devoted to the production and distribution of crops: seeds companies, nurseries, greenhouses, packinghouses, and fruit and veg markets. The latter represents the field of our ethnographic investigation that relied, in particular, on the technique of shadowing, and on around 50 in-depth interviews. The article deals with the everyday life of several actors (producers, agents and dealers) and investigates their negotiations, their worries, their ties. In particular, the contribution scrutinizes which behaviours are deemed legitimate and which are stigmatized within the social space of the market, in order to draw a picture of the moral economy and of the conventions circulating in this setting. Through a number of ethnographic examples, the article describes how the economic-regulative sphere is actually connected and mutually constitutive with the moral-evaluative one.
Keywords: Moral Economy, Economics of Conventions, Transformed littoral strip; shadowing.
Certificazioni e lavoro nelle filiere agroalimentari. Il caso GlobalGap in Italia
Francesco Saverio Caruso
Over the last years, in the agri-food sector the large-scale retail companies have been adopting private certifications with the aim of controlling their suppliers. These certifications, through the definition of standards, registers and procedures, as well as of quality, safety and ethical food production, have become a strategic instrument in the governance of the agri-food supply chains. These standards and certifiations are adopted by suppliers on a «voluntary» basis; nonetheless, because of the oligopsonistic regime in the retail system, they represent an almost obligatory choice for farmers and companies that intend to access national and international food markets. The study focuses on the case of the GlobalGap certification, which is now predominant in the fresh fruit and vegetable sector. GlobalGap defines the Good Agricultural Practices concerning food safety, respect for the environment, safeguarding the health and well-being of workers. This article focuses on the impact of this certification system on the conditions of seasonal agricultural workers in Southern Italy. In particular, it analyses the progressive disarticulation of the system of public controls and shows the scarce effectiveness of such private standards in contrasting the spread of – often illegal – exploitation of workers in Italian agriculture.
Keywords: Private standards; Global value chains; Farm workers; Southern Italy.
Il ruolo delle relazioni industriali per la coesione sociale e lo sviluppo economico: uno studio su due realtà del Mezzogiorno
Vincenzo Fortunato, Marcello Pedaci
In an era of relevant changes in the mechanisms of regulation in many areas of policy, the article deals with the role of industrial relations actors in promoting and improving social and economic security, access to citizens’ rights, inclusion, social cohesion. Specifically, it explores strategies and initiatives of trade unions and employers’ associations at territorial level. The article focuses on territories of the South of Italy, which still features poor economic performances and welfare provisions: two provinces of the Abruzzo region and two provinces of the Calabria region. Here, we analyse social partners’ initiatives after the outbreak of the economic crisis. The analyses is based on case studies carried out under the framework of a pluri-annual national research program. The findings show a variety of initiatives (unilateral, bilateral, with other organisations); many were effective, other no; some were innovative. The article discusses the main factors that influenced their results, highlighting differences and similarities.
Keywords: Industrial relations; Social cohesion; Local development; Mezzogiorno.
This essay investigates the political and spatial upheavals that took place across the Mediterranean, centering on the practices of migration and their reverberations in the European external policy. Migrations and political instability should be considered as practices of freedom that broke the spatial and geopolitical stability of the Mediterranean. Any migration movement need to be grasped in the light of the political, geographical and social context in which it takes place, exploring to what extent it exceeds or disrupts existing economies of mobility and techniques of border management. The proliferation of mobility partnerships, economic agreement and neighborhood policies between the European Union and the countries of the Maghreb region marks the restructuring of migration governmentality in the face of those spatial upheavals. It implies the multilayered set of technologies, discourse and policies concerning the production of borders and their differential functioning, and at the same time the regulation of people’s movements. All this entails a twofold historicizing gesture: both the objects and the political categories through which objects are framed need to be questioned in their historical function and emergence.
Keywords: Schengen area; Migration policies; Frontex; Non Refoulement.