Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Could you pass me that organic food, please?

Since I am going to be doing research on the supply chain of an organic food producer/purveyor over the next six weeks, I thought it was necessary to go and look around for some information about the organic food industry in general. As it turns out, to my surprise, organic farming is actually doing pretty well. I would never have considered it to be a “recession proof” industry, but, apparently, not only has it survived the recession, its attracting a lot of new investments.
There seem to be a few theories as to why this is. One idea is that the wealthier echelons of American society are consuming the most organic food. So, if there has not been a dramatic decrease in their spending habits, then the organic food industry should not have suffered high losses. Another plausible explanation is that the industry’s growth is being driven by an increased public awareness of the health benefits of eating organic food.

Whatever the reason, the result has been an increase in suppliers, and this might not bode well for the small organic farmers near Pittsburgh. If a large chain grocer, i.e. Whole Foods, has access to a multitude of large organic farms, and the supply chains of these large organic farms benefit from economies of scale, how can a small organic farm compete?

I don’t know the answer to this question, but I’m curious to learn more. So, I’m going to pose some additional questions in this blog entry that I want to answer and incorporate in my project. If anyone has any insight, please comment below. I’m new to this industry, but very interested.

What aspect of a supply chain should be most important to meeting the mission of a small organic food purveyor? Should it be cost, sustainability, or resilience? I'm thinking somewhere between cost and resilience.

There have to be advantages to being a smaller purveyor, what are these advantages? Do they relate to supply chain management, and can they be used to improve relations with present clients?

What are some innovations that other companies have used to transport food products, organic or not, and can they be applied to a small organic purveyor?

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