Sustainable global agrifood supply chains: exploring the barriers

Gold, Stefan and Kunz, Nathan and Reine, Gerald (2016) Sustainable global agrifood supply chains: exploring the barriers. Journal of Industrial Ecology . ISSN 1530-9290

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Abstract

The article investigates the factors that make businesses postpone integrating the performance dimension of sustainability in global agrifood supply chains. Based on literature-based conceptual reasoning, the article conceptualizes a double company lens distinguishing between substantial supply chain management and mere public relations endeavors as a major obstacle for businesses pursuing comprehensive supply chain performance in global agrifood chains. We point out that many supply chain performance attributes represent in fact credence attributes that cannot be verified by the consumer, hence entailing an information asymmetry between the company and its consumers. Rational business responses to this situation tend to focus on symbolic actions and communication efforts by means of sustainability reports and other brand-enhancing marketing tools that may be decoupled from substantial operations and supply chain improvements. The research propositions developed have partly been corroborated by a content analysis of annual and sustainability reports of four major agrifood companies (Nestlé, PepsiCo, Unilever, Mondelez International). The conceptual arguments and empirical analysis presented in the article may serve as the basis for managers and academics to develop innovative inter- and intra-organizational business processes that reconcile tradeoffs between various agrifood supply chain performance dimensions, thus pushing the performance frontier outwards; and that provide the necessary transparency for overcoming the currently adverse setting of incentives inherent in the food production, processing, retailing, and consumption system.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Supply chain management, Global agrifood chains, Sustainability, Multi-dimensional performance, Information asymmetry.
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Social Sciences > Nottingham University Business School
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1111/jiec.12440
Depositing User: Howis, Jennifer
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2016 08:46
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2016 23:48
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/39113

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