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Applying commodity chain analysis to changing modes of alcohol supply in a developing country

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Development sociology has used global commodity chains as one way of analyzing the dynamics of power and profit-taking in globalized production networks made up of multiple firms and occurring in multiple national settings. A substantial portion of the alcohol supply in developing countries is now produced through such production networks. Particularly in the beer and spirits trade, a small number of transnational firms control networks of local producers, importers, advertisers and distributors. These networks serve to embed transnational or transnationally backed brands in the local culture, using the tools of market research, product design and marketing to influence local drinking practices. Case materials from Malaysia's beer industry help to illustrate how the transnational firms dominate in those links of the commodity chain in which monopoly or oligopoly control is most likely to be found: the design/recipe and marketing/advertising nodes. Their control of the commodity chains and extraction of monopoly or oligopoly profits from them places substantial resources and influence over drinking settings and practices in foreign hands. The impact of this influence on state efficacy and autonomy in setting alcohol policy is an important subject for future research on the creation and implementation of effective alcohol policies in developing societies.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Marin Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol and Other Drug Problems, San Rafael, CA, USA

Publication date: 2000-12-01

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