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Beyond “mainstream” and “alternative” in organic food supply chains: Empirical examples of added value distribution from eight European countries

Stefano Orsini (Organic Research Centre, Newbury, UK)
Susanne Padel (Organic Research Centre, Newbury, UK)
Danilo Gambelli ( Università Politecnica delle Marche , Ancona, Italy)
Julia Lernoud (Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Frick, Switzerland)
Jürn Sanders (Thünen Institute of Farm Economics, Brunswick, Germany)
Francesco Solfanelli ( Università Politecnica delle Marche , Ancona, Italy)
Matthias Stolze (Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Frick, Switzerland)
Helga Willer (Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Frick, Switzerland)
Raffaele Zanoli ( Università Politecnica delle Marche , Ancona, Italy)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 18 December 2019

Issue publication date: 28 February 2020

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the supply chains for organic milk, apples and pasta in eight European countries and how added value is distributed among market players.

Design/methodology/approach

Using secondary data and expert interviews, a market overview for the three products is provided as the basis of a more detailed analysis of the added value in 12 organic supply chain examples. For this, interviews with market players and an “added value calculator” tool are employed.

Findings

The farm gate and retail price of organic products is higher than conventional. Supermarkets are the main outlet for organic milk and apples in the countries studied, whereas the situation for organic pasta is varied, suggesting that the use of different sale channels is influenced by the food product. The farmers’ share of added value ranges between 3 and 65 per cent of the added value created in the organic supply chains analysed. Organic offers opportunities to increase the farmers’ share of added value both in supermarkets and alternative sale channels, by developing collaboration, physical infrastructures for organic and integrating operations upstream of the chain.

Research limitations/implications

While more research is needed into a larger number of chains, this paper indicates that there are dynamics and features at supply chain level, such as the distribution of added value and the target markets used, that cannot be interpreted according to the binary division between “mainstream” and “alternative” organic suggested by the conventionalisation hypothesis.

Originality/value

The distribution of added value for existing supply chains in eight European countries is calculated by using an effective added value calculator tool.

Keywords

Citation

Orsini, S., Padel, S., Gambelli, D., Lernoud, J., Sanders, J., Solfanelli, F., Stolze, M., Willer, H. and Zanoli, R. (2020), "Beyond “mainstream” and “alternative” in organic food supply chains: Empirical examples of added value distribution from eight European countries", British Food Journal, Vol. 122 No. 3, pp. 798-812. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-07-2019-0508

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited