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Valuing sustainable food and fibre : implications for integrated supply chain approaches to sustainability

Ecker, Saan

Description

The social life of food and fibre production and consumption is often overlooked in efforts to develop policy and programs aimed at shifting to more resource efficient and environmentally and socially benign food and fibre systems. Issues of economic survival, lifestyle influences, values, identity and empowerment contribute as much to the complexity of sustainable production and consumption as do product life cycle issues such as water and energy efficiency, soil management and dealing with...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorEcker, Saan
dc.date.accessioned2014-01-21T04:04:53Z
dc.date.available2014-01-21T04:04:53Z
dc.date.created2010-07
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/11213
dc.description.abstractThe social life of food and fibre production and consumption is often overlooked in efforts to develop policy and programs aimed at shifting to more resource efficient and environmentally and socially benign food and fibre systems. Issues of economic survival, lifestyle influences, values, identity and empowerment contribute as much to the complexity of sustainable production and consumption as do product life cycle issues such as water and energy efficiency, soil management and dealing with waste. That production and consumption is socially constructed, within the environmental and economic context, is well accepted. Emerging social research approaches that consider entire systems of food and fibre production and consumption are transcending segmented approaches focusing on either production or consumption. Understanding the extent to which production defines consumption and consumption defines production is an important element in the development of sustainable food and fibre systems. The aim of this study was to investigate potential frameworks for implementing whole of supply chain approaches to addressing the environmental and social sustainability issues associated with food and fibre production and consumption. This approach is based on the philosophy that all supply chain actors, including consumers, are implicated in social and environmental sustainability issues associated with our food and fibre systems. This was achieved by exploring how social and environmental sustainability issues were valued and integrated in ten production-to-consumption system case studies which represented five different commodities including wool, dairy, horticulture, grains and viticulture. The farms sourcing these supply chains were located in the Blackwood Catchment in the South West of Western Australia. As an established ˜social catchment" the location provided an important context for the project given the largely community-based efforts to support sustainable agriculture which had occurred over time in the catchment. Theoretical concepts from systemic intervention and soft systems methodology were explored to inform a situation-driven methodology based on adaptive theory. The use of adaptive theory enabled a disciplined approach to integrating the complex sources of data and information in the study. Through interviews and forums, information was gathered about how sustainability values held by supply chain actors influence (or fail to influence) the development and operation of integrated supply chain sustainability approaches. The study used 'product narratives' or product stories as the form which best communicated the experiences associated with sustainability in each food or fibre product chain. The narrative form was selected because of its potential to be transformative and because of the increasing relevance to markets of the story behind the product. As a study of 'best practice', the research considered supply chains which involved both farmers and consumers that were already making efforts towards sustainability. A participatory research model was used, building on established relationships between the researcher and participants. Attitudes to sustainability were examined at the farming, warehousing, manufacturing and retail stages in the supply chains. 'Green' consumers were surveyed because they were the most information rich on the topic. Non-certified supply chains were paired with certified supply chains (e.g. organic and EU Eco-wool) to allow comparison between these pproaches. The study tracked the transfer of sustainability values through the supply chains with a particular focus on the transfer of environmental sustainability values. Farmers interviewed held strong environmental and social values and were generally concerned about the transfer of these values along the supply chain. The middle chain actors were generally unconcerned with the transfer of social and environmental sustainability values, with the exception of some actors in certified supply chains. The 'green' consumers targeted for this study were concerned with environmental and social sustainability values (as secondary issues to price, health, quality, freshness and taste). A set of characteristics of sustainable supply chains emerged including 'core sustainability values' and 'dimensions' of sustainable supply chains. Sustainability values which emerged from the empirical data as central in the supply chains included those related to health, environmental sustainability, social equity, prosperity, animal welfare and regional sustainability issues. Based on existing sustainable supply chain enterprises and new models of sustainability that emerged during the study, an intervention framework to support the development of sustainable supply chains is proposed, targeting all supply chain actors. This intervention framework outlines proposed pathways for supporting sustainability in food and fibre systems through addressing impediments and building on drivers identified in the study.
dc.language.isoen_AU
dc.subjectsustainability
dc.subjectfood
dc.subjectfibre
dc.subjectproduction
dc.subjectvalues
dc.subjectsupply chain
dc.subjectconsumption
dc.subjectorganic
dc.subjectanimal welfare
dc.titleValuing sustainable food and fibre : implications for integrated supply chain approaches to sustainability
dc.typeThesis (PhD)
local.contributor.supervisorDavid Dumaresq
local.contributor.supervisorcontactdavid.dumaresq@anu.edu.au
dcterms.valid2010
local.description.refereedyes
local.type.degreeDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
dc.date.issued2014-01-21
local.contributor.affiliationFenner School
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