The pursuit of qualities by peripheral latecomers in the agrofood sectors: The case of Erlin wine industry in Taiwan

Liang-Chih Chen (2021)

Sociologia Ruralis. Online first

Abstract. Using the recent emergence of Taiwan’s Erlin wine region as the example, this paper studies the late development of a given peripheral agrofood sector. Specifically, it proposes an analytical approach that incorporates quality perspectives and the convention theory framework for better accounting for certain quality‐pursuing approaches employed by latecomers in such industries to drive their upgrading and evolution. Through examining the ways in which quality is constructed, regulated and marketed by actors in Taiwan’s Erlin region, and how and why they translated specific quality conventions into a local wine system for guiding their production and marketing practices, this paper broadens our understandings of the divergent development dynamics within and processes of global agrofood latecomers, especially those in the wine industry. Additionally, as opposed to existing literature’s emphases on building technological capabilities for facilitating quality upgrading of agrofood industries, we further suggest that the critical quality tasks for agrofood latecomers also involve the establishment of plural product qualities. As the Erlin case shows, it is through the individual and collective efforts of local actors to explore fluid definitions of wine quality, the late development of a wine industry in a global peripheral context thus was enabled.

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