Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


FOODCOMM Report Summary

Project ID: 6458
Funded under: FP6-POLICIES
Country: Germany

Final Report Summary - FOODCOMM (Key factors influencing economic relationships and communication in European food chains)

European Union (EU)'s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is moving towards freer markets. Reduced market intervention for agricultural products has repercussions on the whole food chain, which might provide new opportunities or challenges for the European food system. In order to be able to benefit from these new developments, a more proactive and self-responsible behaviour of all actors involved in the food chain is necessary. In addition, there is need for analysis of potential risks, benefits and measures of support of the transformation process. Measures to counter arising instabilities in the European food sector and to promote sustainable development of competitive food chains may include the improvement of coordination among farmers, processors and retailers by strengthening economic relationships and by intensifying communication.

The overall objective of this project was to analyse the role (prevalence, necessity and significance) of economic relationships and communication in selected European food chains and to identify the economic, social and cultural factors which influence coordination within these chains. In order to accomplish this objective:
(1) a theoretical framework has been constructed;
(2) food-chain systems in six countries have been reviewed;
(3) a representative cross-country, multi-commodity survey of farmers, processors and retailers has been conducted based on the outcome of the previous two work packages;
(4) the collected data, by generating estimators for population parameters and testing research hypotheses, was analysed, which lead also to the identification of issues for further in-depth study;
(5) country-specific research of these issues has been conducted;
(6) all findings have been evaluated and recommendations for policy making and business have been derived focusing on how economic relationships along the food chain may be improved;
(7) the project results have been and still will be disseminated to business and policy decision-makers, as well as to the research audience and the general public.

According to the project's tender description, the 'data generated by this research should provide an overview of the economic and social factors which have led to a weakening of the links in the European food chain. The importance of this work in situating the farming sector in the broader agri-food sector should be emphasised'.

As a consequence, and in the context of 'a CAP with decreasing recourse to market-intervention measures', the FOODCOMM research results show that it is an increasingly important business ability to build and maintain effective relationships in order to integrate into or to form new agri-food supply chains. While not being the only factor, there can be no doubt that an enhanced 'collaboration' ability can only increase the European agribusiness sector's competitiveness in increasingly globalised and liberalised markets in the short, medium and long term. Hence, future policy-support options should be designed to encourage and enhance chain communication and collaboration, by raising awareness of the related benefits. This will involve good practice dissemination and building of the capacity of farm and firm managers to fully integrate into or to build and maintain new sustainable agri-food supply chains. For this effective relationship-management skills are a prerequisite, alongside other factors such as a better understanding of market requirements and the challenges faced at all levels within the chains concerned. Moreover, regulatory or administrative burdens should not be so onerous as to inhibit desirable change.

The project website (please see online) has been an ongoing dissemination instrument, available to the general public since August 2005. All project background information, as well as up-to-date news and results, can be accessed through the website. PDF copies of the executive summaries of all reports to the European Commission have been made available for download as well as the abstracts of published journal articles and full-text conference papers. In addition, the online survey platform has been kept open so that interested companies have had an ongoing opportunity to benchmark their business relationships relative to the already collected database.

Related information

Reported by

Regina Pacis Weg 3
See on map
Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top