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The role of voluntary food co-operatives in the retail marketplace: some theoretical considerations

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Voluntary food co-operatives (VFCs) remain a relatively under researched area of academic enquiry. However they represent an important form of retail provision for particular groups in the community. This paper puts forward a theoretical framework that attempts to conceptualize the role and purpose of VFCs. Drawing upon Resource-Advantage (RA) theory it maintains that VFCs are the outcome of competitive market processes. Their importance lies in the provision of goods and services to a neglected segment of the population. The paper argues that VFCs are neither a form of unfair competition, nor do they prevent the development of new forms of retailing. Rather VFCs represent a proactive response to the exclusion of particular groups from the marketplace.

Keywords: Competition; food choice; retail; social exclusion; voluntary food co-operatives

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2003

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