High-specification food products that reach prices or expert reviews above average, results from buyer-supplier engagement in quality management. The purpose of this paper is to identify the main attributes of the coffee industry supply chain that deals with high-specification products. Coffee may be included in this category of consumption goods that has increasing importance at consumption level around the world. Several groups of high-quality food products such as wine, coffee, spirits and cheese seem to have a very similar supply chain.
This study was based on multiple case studies. Three research techniques were used in the investigation: secondary data analysis, direct observations and interviews with coffee company’s managers and experts. The within-case and the cross-case analyses made it possible to find the main attributes of a high-specification product supply chain.
The cases studies pointed out differences between the two groups of coffee shops in relation to their supply chain strategies. The first group can be called Independent Coffee Shops, since they are focussed on the coffee preparation business. The second group can be called Integrated Coffee Shops, due to the fact that these organizations are responsible to manufacturing activities in addition to the coffee preparation activities. Despite this supply chain configuration difference, both groups have a similar perception about their role for the final consumer, to provide a premium experience with coffee.
The main limitation of this research comes from the fact it was possible to interview only one person in each organization. Only the commercialization of the supply chain was analyzed, if the agricultural production was also analyzed, this paper could have broader implications.
The results of this research show the configuration of a supply chain that handles a high-specification product. They are set to transform the trade of a product that has a component of volatility in its quality attributes into a trade of a product that embodies all the desirable attributes preferred by a specific group of costumers. The logic of a supply chain that deals with commodities is different, since in most of the cases it will try to accommodate the variations on quality that comes from nature. This paper describes the market based strategy of 12 organizations and their supply chain configuration in order to offer a premium product.
Carvalho, J.M., Paiva, E.L. and Vieira, L.M. (2016), "Quality attributes of a high specification product: Evidences from the speciality coffee business", British Food Journal, Vol. 118 No. 1, pp. 132-149. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-02-2015-0059
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