The Special Issue on “Agricultural Value Chains: Innovations and Sustainability” aims at gathering papers that study how farmers and food businesses deal with the challenge of sustainability by introducing technical, organizational, and social innovations. In recent years, sustainability has become a key factor of innovation. Companies are introducing sustainability strategies both to consolidate their brand reputation and to differentiate their products in an increasingly competitive market. Sustainability criteria, if adequately communicated, have the power to appeal to a growing segment of consumers concerned with the environment, health, and social and ethical issues. This has important implications for the governance of value chains, as sustainability strategies imply the realignment of all actors of the chain around new values and often new connections with actors who are not usually considered within a supply chain logic. This growing interest for sustainability, however, is accompanied with the growth of inaccurate or misleading sustainability claims, which may undermine consumers’ trust. Papers for this Special Issue will provide theory and evidence of these tendencies, will show how the meaning of sustainability is turned into product standards, how these meanings are transmitted along the value chain, how consumers react to these standards and related communications, and what controversies are being generated by sustainability claims. In addition to these concerns over the consumer interface of sustainability in value chains, additional attention will be given to the role of farmers in the value chains: What are the innovation pathways farmers follow to capture the opportunities of the growing demand for sustainability? Will the power balance in the value chain change as an effect of the turn to sustainability? What are the value chain configurations that help a favorable integration with the markets? In this way, the Special Issue will seek to merge the sometimes divergent fields of consumer studies and innovation studies in agri-food systems.
Prof. Gianluca Brunori Dr. Allison Loconto Guest Editors
Prof. Gianluca Brunori Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Pisa University, Pisa, Italy Website | E-Mail Interests: agricultural economics; rural development; rural sociology; agri-food marketing Dr. Allison Loconto National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), Interdisciplinary Laboratory on Science, Innovation and Society (LISIS), University of Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée, Marne la Vallée, France Website | E-Mail Interests: value chains; innovation; standards and certification; sustainable agriculture; agroecology
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value chains, sustainability standards, certification, labels, consumer communication, social innovation, innovation pathways, supply chains, alternative agri-food networks
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