The purpose of this paper is to assess and explain the trust situation in EU agri‐food supply chains in the context of the assumption that the existence of well‐functioning trust‐based supplier‐buyer relationships enables a secure and safe food supply.
Using structural equation modelling (SEM) and survey data (n=1,430) on supplier‐buyer relationships from six different countries, two commodity supply chains (meat and cereals) and two supply chain stages (farmer‐processor and processor‐retailer), main trust determinants are identified and discussed. By simultaneously covering two supply chain stages the analysis adopts a perspective beyond the dyad.
The SEM results indicate that trust in supply chain partners can be significantly improved by effective communication and by positive past collaboration. The existence of personal bonds (ties) between partners does not seem to play a direct role in the retailer‐processor relationship but is important when dealing with farmers. In both supply chain stages positive past collaboration as well as the existence of personal bonds also indirectly enhance trust by promoting effective communication which in turn positively impacts on trust levels, thus proofing communication to be a powerful mediator variable.
This study's findings can be used by practitioners to learn how to improve trust in their supply chain relationships and how to communicate effectively.
The results provide large‐scale empirical evidence on trust drivers in European agri‐food supply chains thus confirming earlier studies on the topic from other industries.
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