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Viton, Albert | Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections

Name: Viton, Albert

Historical Note:

Albert Viton was born in Lithuania on May 28, 1913. He holds B.S. and Ph.D. (1941) degrees from Northwestern University. Following receipt of his doctorate, Dr. Viton worked on national and international food distribution planning and control in the Office of Price Administration and subsequently in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), including on the U.S. team of the US/UK/Canada Combined Food Board. It was in these government departments that his close association with sugar began.

Prior to World War II, Dr. Viton spent three years in the Near East and authored many journal articles on the politics and economics of the area. In 1941, the John Day Company published his book, Great Britain: An Empire in Transition. In the following year they published his second book, An American Empire in Asia? In 1944, Dr. Viton was at the U.S. Economic Mission in London to work with the Ministry of Food on Europe's post-liberation supplies. When the International Emergency Food Council was formed in 1946 to include allied and liberated countries in the planning of world food production and distribution, Dr. Viton was invited to become the Assistant Secretary General, in which capacity he supervised the operation of several intergovernmental commodity committees. The work of the Sugar Committee brought him in contact with the pre-war International Sugar Organisation (ISO) in London, a relationship that continued after the termination of the Emergency Food Council when Dr. Viton became head of FAO economic work on sugar and tropical crops. When the first post-war preparatory committee on negotiation of a new International Sugar Agreement was formed in 1947, the Chairman, Baron Kronacker of Belgium, requested Dr. Viton's expert cooperation, and Dr. Viton subsequently participated in all the preparatory work from 1947 to 1953.

From 1946 to 1976, Dr. Viton worked with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. As an economist with the FAO, Dr. Viton spent much of his career focused on sugar pricing. Before retiring as a Senior Director of the Commodities Division of the FAO in 1976, he represented the FAO in all international sugar negotiations, conferences, and meetings.

Dr. Viton was a member of the Preparatory Committee for the first international sugar agreement (1947-1952) chaired by Baron Kronacker of Belgium and a member of the Troika chaired by Dr. Raul Prebisch, Director General of UNCTAD, that was in charge of the price and quota negotiations of the 1968 International Sugar Agreement. Dr. Viton was also one of the two Expert Advisors appointed by the Chairman of the 1977 UN Negotiating Conference to resolve quota issues.

Viton was secretary of the Cocoa Study Group in 1956, 1964, and 1972.  Following his retirement from the FAO in 1976, Dr. Viton continued to participate in international sugar affairs and to attend all meetings and conferences of the International Sugar Organization as economic consultant of the sugar delegation of El Salvador, and subsequently the Philippines. He has been a consultant on sugar and cocoa to many other governments, and to various beet and cane sugar producing organizations. He has authored two volumes on sugar (published jointly by FAO and the International Sugar Organization), as well as numerous articles, reports, and published speeches on agricultural commodities. His studies on the world sugar economy have appeared in F.O. Licht's International Sugar Report, the F.O. Licht Sugar Yearbook, "Sugar Y Azucar," and other journals. In 2004, Purdue University Press published Dr. Viton's latest book, The International Sugar Agreements: Promise and Reality. This book represents the only comprehensive study of the negotiation and administration of a major international commodity market regulation agreement.

In 2005 Dr. Viton established the Albert Viton Scholarship at Purdue University, which recognizes top undergraduate students who work in the Purdue Libraries or at the University Press.The first award was given in spring 2006.

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