Towards the Development of Innovative Strategies for Traditional Food Chains in the EU

Adrienn Molnár, Xavier Gellynck, Filiep Vanhonacker, Wim Verbeke


Organizations no longer compete as independent entities, but as chains (Christopher, 1998; Cox, 1999; Lambert, Cooper, 2000). Consequently, chain strategies became more important in creating competitive advantage (Vickery et al., 2003; Gunasekaran et al., 2004). Despite the growing recognition of the importance of chain strategies, many chains active in the agri-business sector still face difficulties in developing common chain strategies and implementing them collaboratively to generate additional mutual gains and savings. Chains lacking a chain strategy and having short-term perspectives face difficulties in envisaging and implementing cooperative solutions to problems they cannot manage alone. Despite this recognition, the actual development of such chain strategies lags behind because of some particular issues which still need to be addressed (e.g. vision, mission, values or action plans). Therefore, the objective of this paper is to identify and consolidate chain members’ goals, to select a minimum set of key goals and to confront these chain goals with consumer preferences. This way, the paper develops the vision of traditional food chains in the EU, as a first step of strategy development. First, chain members goals are identified and consolidated with the help of approximately 100 stakeholders (suppliers, focal companies, customers) from three European countries representing 5 traditional food product categories (cheese, beer, dry ham, dry sausage and white pepper). The most important goals of traditional food chains are to maintain traditionalism, to improve responsiveness, to maintain superior quality and to create chain balance. These chain goals are tested against the perception of 4828 consumers from six European countries (Belgium, France, Italy, Norway, Poland and Spain). As a result, the vision of traditional food chains is developed: the European traditional food sector envisions a competitive sector maintaining the traditional character and superior quality of their food product(s) via more efficient and responsive chains where risks and benefits are distributed in a balanced way between the members.


chain goals; consumer perceptions; traditional food products

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ISSN 1869-6945


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