The purpose of this paper is to offer an exploratory case study comparing one Brazilian beef processor's relationships supplying two different distribution channels, an EU importer and an EU retail chain operating in Brazil.
The paper begins with a short review of global value chains and the recent literature on trust. It gives the background to the Brazilian beef chain and presents data obtained through in‐depth interviews, annual reports and direct observation with the Brazilian beef processor, the EU importer and the retailer. The interviews were conducted with individual firms, but the analysis places them in a chain context, identifying the links and relationships between the agents of the chains and aiming to describe each distribution channel.
Executive chain governance exercised by the domestic retailer stimulates technical upgrading and transferring of best practices to local suppliers. Consequently, this kind of relationship results in more trust within the global value chain.
There are difficulties and challenges facing this Brazilian beef processor that are party related to the need to comply with increasingly complex and demanding food safety and food quality standards. There is still a gap between practices adopted for the export market and practices adopted locally. The strategies of transnational retailers in offering differentiated beef should be taken in account.
The research outlines an interdisciplinary framework able to explain chain relationships and the kind of trust that emerges in relationships between EU importer/retail and a developing country supplier.
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