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Exploring geographical dispersion in Thailand‐based food supply chain (FSC)

Pichawadee Kittipanya‐ngam (Department of Engineering, Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK)
Yongjiang Shi (Department of Engineering, Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK)
Mike J. Gregory (Department of Engineering, Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK)

Benchmarking: An International Journal

ISSN: 1463-5771

Article publication date: 25 October 2011




The purpose of this paper is to explore the key influential factors and their implications on food supply chain (FSC) location decisions from a Thailand‐based manufacturer's view.


In total, 21 case studies were conducted with eight Thailand‐based food manufacturers. In each case, key influential factors were observed along with their implications on upstream and downstream FSC location decisions. Data were collected through semi‐structured interviews and documentations. Data reduction and data display in tables were used to help data analysis of the case studies.


This exploratory research found that, in the food industry, FSC geographical dispersion pattern could be determined by four factors: perishability, value density, economic‐political forces, and technological forces. Technological forces were found as an enabler for FSC geographical dispersion whereas the other three factors could be both barriers and enablers. The implications of these four influential factors drive FSC towards four key patterns of FSC geographical dispersion: local supply chain (SC), supply‐proximity SC, market‐proximity SC, and international SC. Additionally, the strategy of the firm was found to also be an influential factor in determining FSC geographical dispersion.

Research limitations/implications

Despite conducting 21 cases, the findings in this research are based on a relatively small sample, given the large size of the industry. More case evidence from a broader range of food product market and supply items, particularly ones that have significantly different patterns of FSC geographical dispersions would have been insightful. The consideration of additional influential factors such as labour movement between developing countries, currency fluctuations and labour costs, would also enrich the framework as well as improve the quality and validity of the research findings. The different strategies employed by the case companies and their implications on FSC location decisions should also be further investigated along with cases outside Thailand, to provide a more comprehensive view of FSC geographical location decisions.

Practical implications

This paper provides insights how FSC is geographically located in both supply‐side and demand‐side from a manufacturing firm's view. The findings can also provide SC managers and researchers a better understanding of their FSCs.


This research bridges the existing gap in the literature, explaining the geographical dispersion of SC particularly in the food industry where the characteristics are very specific, by exploring the internationalization ability of Thailand‐based FSC and generalizing the key influential factors – perishability (lead time), value density, economic‐political forces, market opportunities, and technological advancements. Four key patterns of FSC internationalization emerged from the case studies.



Kittipanya‐ngam, P., Shi, Y. and Gregory, M.J. (2011), "Exploring geographical dispersion in Thailand‐based food supply chain (FSC)", Benchmarking: An International Journal, Vol. 18 No. 6, pp. 802-833.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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