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Patterns of world wheat trade, 1945–2010: The long hangover from the second food regime

Journal of Agrarian Change

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Food regime analysis is concerned with interpreting possibilities and conflicts inherent to the 21st‐century food system in historical terms. This paper summarizes the theoretical discussion of the food regime method, and of the identification of different “food regime periods” throughout modern history. While it is widely accepted that the so‐called “second food regime” has already ended, there is much discussion on whether or not it is possible to talk about a more recent third food regime. This paper traces the evolution of the “wheat complex” over the “second food regime” (1947–1973) and over the next 45 years, and offers an explanation for the evolution of world wheat trade distribution, based on food regime analysis. Certain authors have claimed that the collapse of the WTO Doha round of negotiations may be understood as a “hangover” from the second food regime. Similarly, this paper argues that the increasing wheat dependence of poor and insecure countries over the past 40 years may be considered as a path dependence outcome of a process initiated during the second food regime.