Research Program

The transformation of global agri-food systems will have far-reaching implications, which are not yet well understood.

  • How does the structure of food supply chains emerge?
  • What are likely impacts on trade flows and value distribution?
  • How can future trends in global consumption behavior be estimated?
  • How do these trends influence supply chain governance?
  • Can smallholder farmers in developing countries be integrated successfully into high-value supply chains?
  • What are the implications for poverty, food security, and nutrition?

These are some of the overarching research questions addressed by the GlobalFood RTG. While some of the research is based on secondary data, many aspects build on primary data collected through household and industry surveys as well as laboratory and field experiments in developed and developing countries. Research results advance the academic knowledge base and guide public and private sector policymaking at various levels.

Research areas and cross-cutting themes

GlobalFood is structured into four interlinked research areas, which cover different stages of international agri-food supply chains. While research area A (“Restructuring of global supply chains”) focuses on intermediate stages, such as trade and retail, research area B (“Consumer preferences and nutritional implications”) takes a closer look at consumption. The remaining two research areas (Area C: “Linking smallholders to markets” and Area D: “Impacts on rural development”) concentrate on agricultural production and marketing in developing countries, with special emphasis on how small farms can be linked to emerging value chains and impacts on welfare and rural development.

grk 1666 mittel logo

As a new instrument, GlobalFood has identified four cross-cutting themes in 2014 that will foster interdisciplinary cooperation and allow broader syntheses of research findings. These cross-cutting themes address specific areas that are of great importance for a better understanding of the global agri-food system transformation, but that have not yet received much attention in the related literature. These cross-cutting themes are "Gender", "Nutrition", "Preferences", and "Policy".


Each research area comprises three to four subprojects (SPs), where concrete research questions are addressed by doctoral researchers, always in close interaction with the other SPs. Postdoctoral researchers focus on cross-cutting issues.

The subprojects are (use the hyperlinks to get further details):