COMPLEMENTARITY AND COMPETITION AMONG THE VARIOUS PRODUCTION-MARKETING SUB-SYSTEMS WITHIN THE FRUIT AND VEGETABLE INDUSTRY
The self-sufficient sub-system, either a vestige of the past or a reaction against our consumer society, still plays an important role. The rural exodus brings about its regression, but its influence seems to be balanced by earlier retirement, a lengthened life-span and the extra-urban spread of housing. The general forecast is that the self-sufficient sub-system will go on providing for from 20 to 25% of French fruit and vegetable consumption.
A higher standard of living, the consumers' search for quality products much like "natural" products, and their fatigue caused by large retail supermarkets, still enable the small-scale local sub-systems based on wholesale or retail production market-places, to conserve their majority position (only as concerns fruits and vegetables), in spite of a perceptible regression, and to play an essential part in price formation.
However, technical progress, along with the pressure of social organization, considering the prevailing scale of values, favour the slow development of the industrial sub-system, at the production level as well as at wholesale and retail levels.
The struggle between the fruit and vegetable production-marketing sub-systems goes far beyond a mere competition between marketing techniques. Through the medium of these sub-systems, methods of determining the value of products are in competition. Enterprises within the industrial sub-system would like to be free to set their sales prices in relation to their costs and a certain rate of profit. They cannot at present, for they have to align their prices according to those made on the market-place, and on these market-places prices are regulated by supply and demand rather than by cost levels. Therefore, one can easily understand why the industrial sub-systems endeavours to eliminate the small-scale local sub-system, so as to be free to put into effect the industrial process of price formation, which is the only one advantageous to it.
Through the competition among the various sub-systems it therefore does appear that we are witnessing a conflict between economic systems.
Such an approach to the fruit and vegetable trade leads us to lay stress on the importance of the diversity of the production-marketing systems, so as to favour competition which is profitable to the consumer. It also reveals that a generalization of the coordinated industrial sub-system would completely modify the present price-formation system.
The consequences of measures taken within the frame-work of economic