Institut für Geographie


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Project Description

The project: Value Chains and Consumer Decisions – Remote Effects of Governance and Product Biographies Using Cocoa as an Example


The research project of the inter- and transdisciplinary team of scientists from Osnabrück University and the practice partner Ludwig Weinrich GmbH are technically and financially supported by the DBU.
Within the project, we problematize the causal relationships between global value chains, the control over the sustainability of its production at origin and its final consumption in Europe.


Processes of globalization have led to

  • an increasing spatial and cultural distance between consumers and the origin of their consumed products,
  • weakening product and process standards to the point that their effective enforcement only applies to an ever smaller fraction of the population they are meant to protect, and to a diminishing share of products consumed,
  • a growing complexity of governance structures regulating transnational production networks as well as a reinforcement of social and ecological effects of purchasing decisions.

Simultaneously, consumer behavior has become more differentiated, with social and ecological aspects gaining relevance for increasing parts of the potential customer base.
Food producers and retailers have recognized this as an opportunity and are marketing their products accordingly, using not only traditional forms of advertising but also labels and certifications of product quality and origin with varying degrees of meaning. There are many studies that examine particular aspects of these developments, but an interdisciplinary consideration of the entire interdependency between consumer decisions, marketing, trade, production, governance as well as ecological and social effects from a transnational perspective is lacking so far.