The worldwide importance of crop production is undisputed due to its function for basic nutrition of billions of people. Yet, the emergence of global forces implies severe consequences for the organization of crop value chains. These forces particularly include processes of liberalization and deregulation, the dominance of large retail groups as well as ever-changing consumer demands, leading to continuous reconfigurations of crop value chains. Based on a literature review, this paper aims at thematically ‘organizing’ and differentiating the key findings of relevant empirical studies on global crop value chains, with a particular focus on South-North relations. Thereby, current shifts and challenges are identified and analysed with special attention paid to spatio-relational dimensions. The spatial perspective is important since crop value chains both shape and are shaped by specific geographical settings which is, among others, considered in the growing literature on food geographies. Overall, we could extract three strands of literature on global crop value chains: the integration of smallholders; the role of food standards; and the effect of ‘hidden’ dynamics. These issues especially reveal the interdependencies between the Global South and the Global North as a crucial feature of contemporary crop production and distribution systems. These are A further outcome of the literature analysis is the derivation of suggestions regarding future research and areas of needed progress.
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