Think Global, Buy National: CSR, Cooperatives and Consumer Concerns in the Norwegian Food Value Chain
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Original versionJournal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics. 2016, 29 (3), 387-405. 10.1007/s10806-016-9609-8
In a world where issues of food safety and food security are increasingly important, the social responsibility of central actors in the food chain—producers and the main grocery chains—becomes more pressing. As a response, these actors move from implicitly assuming social responsibilities implied in laws, regulations and ethical customs, towards explicitly expressing social responsibilities. In this paper, we discuss the ethical values relevant for the social responsibility of central food producers and retailers in Norway, one of the most subsidized and protected areas of food production in the world. How do the actors perceive and express their social responsibility, and—given their position in the local, national and global market—how should they handle these responsibilities? We analyze Tine and Nortura, two producers owned by farmer cooperatives with market regulator function, as well as Coop—a dominant grocery chain in Norway, with basis in the same public ownership model as the farmer-owned cooperative producers. While the complex roles of these key actors in the Norwegian food market have been criticized from several angles, we argue that these multifaceted roles put them in a good position to promote informed consumer choices in a globalized market.