Pricing Perishables

Robert. D. Weaver, Yongma Moon



A key feature of food products is their perishability. Within the short marketing window that characterizes most food and ag products, demand is typically highly stochastic and difficult to predict. This combination of features poses substantial challenges to retailers when pricing products and has implications for performance that ripples through vertical food chains. For many food products, processing to forms that can be preserved and held in inventory has traditionally been used as a means of coping with these conditions, despite its high costs and ancillary risks introduced such as change in product attributes and deterioration. This paper presents an alternative ERM strategy that focuses on dynamic pricing to control the rate of sale for perishable products. The paper considers a retailer that has market power to price and supplies perishable products to a market with substitute products and demand originating from heterogeneous consumers. Perishability implies a finite horizon for the marketing of the products over which demand across market segments of consumers is both dynamic and stochastic. Faced with uncertainty, we suppose the firm has limited information about the stochastic properties of demand and must choose a pricing strategy that projects over the market horizon. This price trajectory represents a key control mechanism to cope with uncertainty of both the perishability of the product and of demand.

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ISSN 2194-511X


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