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Seminar on structural change in agri-food chains: new relations between farm sector, food industry and retail sector


149th EAAE Seminar

Structural change in agri-food chains: new relations between farm sector, food industry and retail sector

27-28 October 2016
INRA / Agrocampus Ouest
Rennes, France


The seminar focuses on structural change along the food chains. It includes the farm sector, the food industry as well as the retail sector.


  • Modelling and measuring structural change of farms and food firms
  • Exits and entries of farms and agri-food firms, including successions for farms and consolidations for agri-food firms, and associated empirical challenges
  • Determinants of structural change of farms and food firms
  • Understanding the decisions and behaviour of farms/food firms in the context of structural change
  • Structural changes and demand for quality in food supply-chains, from farms to food firms
  • Investment, innovation and structural change
  • Contractual relations between farms and food industry
  • Contractual relations between farms and retail sector
  • Contractual relations between food industry and retail sector
  • Influence of concentration in the upstream sectors on farm sector
  • Vertical specialisation in food chains and procurement issues
  • Farms and food firms horizontal and vertical interrelations and interpendencies
  • Supply chain issues for farms and food industry facing structural changes
  • Spatial interaction and distribution of farms and food firms
  • Impact of policy instruments on farms and food firms’ structural change
  • Globalisation (trade, foreign direct investment, vertical specialisation, etc.) and structural changes in agriculture and food industry
  • Structural change and sustainability, profitability and competition in both sectors
  • Impact of farms and food firms’ structural change on rural areas, the environment and food security
  • Papers focusing on farms only or on food firms only, as well as papers about both, are welcome. Papers on all regions of the world are welcome


Farms and firms in the food industry are interrelated through various contractual and informal arrangements. Relations between the food sector and the retail one, as well as between the farm sector and the retail sector, take also various forms. Understanding how these interrelations work (or do not), and under different economic and social conditions, is key to boost the competitiveness of European agriculture.
On the one hand, investigating the effect of structural change on the evolution of farm structures, what shapes this change in the 21st century and how it affects other aspects of the economy such as the state of the environment or the vitality of rural areas, is crucial to better predict future developments of agriculture and rural areas. Sometimes structural change is simply thought of as the decrease in the number of farms, increase in their average size and concentration of production. Structural change in the farming and food sector encompasses various other aspects, ranging from the way farms organise production and their relations in the agrofood chain (B2B relations) up to the impact of structural change on rural areas and economic activities in these areas. The question how B2B relations influence the development of the farming sector in Europe and beyond is a question that so far not yet received too much attention, but which is crucial to understand future development of the farming sector. A similar
observation can be made on studies regarding relations between farms and the retail sector.
On the other hand, structural change affecting firms in food industry is also a crucial topic, which has received quite some attention at the level of specific regional chains and single product markets, however, much has still to be learned regarding wider structural implications of food chains and ‘food-webs’. Food firms evolve in globalised markets that impact their strategies. The growing sourcing abroad of  intermediate inputs, the need of a constant quality upgrading to compete in the export markets, the role of major international players (retailers and multinationals), and the growing complexity of international food supply chains, are some key determinants – both in agriculture and food industry – that have to be accounted for. There is a need to understand how structural changes in the food industry, such as increasing concentration that follows a concentration trend in the retailing sector, have affected the structural changes in the farming sector.
This seminar will not only look at structural changes in each of these sectors separately, but also pay attention to the interactions between them, how these affect the relations between farms and the downstream sector.
These relations develop through several channels and depend on various factors, including the spatial distribution of farms and firms, spatial procurement of raw materials and supply chain organisation, quality management and vertical specialisation. As a result, developments in each sector may be at the same time a driver and/or a result of those in the other sector, and it is important to consider them together in order to better disentangle the key driving forces such as public policies and market structure, the respective roles and potential threshold effects.


The first objective of the seminar is to bring together researchers working on the various topics within the overall theme of structural change in agrofood chains in order to stimulate discussions, collaborations and future research. The second objective is to take stock of the current research on the topics, in particular from theoretical, methodological and empirical points of view. The third objective is to bring together research on farms and research on food industry, with the aim to see what lessons can be learned from one sector for the other, in terms of challenges, theories, methodologies and data.


The working language of the seminar is English.

Partner journals

The European Review of Agricultural Economics (ERAE) will be approached for a special issue of papers from the seminar. In addition, RAEStud (Review of Agricultural and Environmental Studies and BAE (Bio-based and Applied Economics) will publish articles from the seminar, with a regular (but quicker) peer-review procedure. Seminar participants who are interested will have to submit their paper to the chosen journal by December 15, 2016.


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Program of the 149th EAAE Seminar

The program at a glance is now available
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Decision on submissions

Instructions for full papers and for posters
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Submissions closed

Submissions have closed on January 27, 2016.
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Call for submissions

It is now possible to submit an abstract for the seminar.
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