Proceedings

CS – Improved Forms Of Business Collaboration For Primary Producers Operating Within The UK Food Supply Chain

The lack of collaboration in the food chain has long been recognised as a barrier to improved efficiency. A series of three interviews, using the Delphi technique, were conducted to inform on the specific nature of the reasons for this and to also suggest methods for overcoming the difficulties. The interviewees were carefully selected so that all participants were senior enough in organisations to reflect authoritative views and that several stake holder categories were represented.
The first round of interviews demonstrated that farmers had a domestic focus and a lack of business vision. There was also no clear sense of ownership within existing farmer cooperatives and these organisations often had a lack of commitment and dedication, inadequate structures and inflexible rules. Finally the personal qualities of the members often showed a lack of good leadership, no clear definition of roles and not enough professional training.

The second and third round of interviews tested three theoretical models that were constructed as a result of the first round of interviews. These models were called Net Associations, Net Cooperatives and Net Businesses. Each one was a more complex structure than the previous one. The conclusions from these interviews was that what is required is more tangible benefits for members, clearer property rights and financial frameworks which could attract investments and payments to members and managers in accordance with performance.

The key factor in the UK was to gain recognition among participants of the food chain in general and farmers in particular of the need to fundamentally address organisational structure.

An increase in the business education level would be necessary in order to professionalise the different roles.

Keywords: Cooperation, food chain, business

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Author(s): Alliston, J. C., Dent, J.B., Gonzalez-Diaz, F., Newton, D.J.

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Organizations(s): Royal Agricultural College