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Theme and Background

The production and marketing of food takes place in an interdependent dynamic system, the food system, involving activities of

  • enterprises in chains and networks in agriculture, food processing, and retail and
  • consumers, media, and an institutional environment for policy, marketing, and management support.

Among the actors of the food system and between the food system and the political, economic, technical, socio-cultural, and natural environment, dynamic interactions and interdependencies occur. These dynamics cause a constant challenge for actors in the food system towards the development of strategies that ensure sustainability and competitiveness for themselves and for the food sector as a whole.

Key success factors for meeting this challenge are, among others, innovations and the system’s capability for innovations that aim at sustainable system dynamics

Innovations for the food system regard production, organization (internal processes, logistics, and marketing), technology, and management including the flexibility and speed to adapt to changing conditions and scenarios.

System innovations and dynamics in food chains and networks could focus on such diverse elements as

  • inter-company quality systems and quality standards,
  • inter-organizational information systems (e.g. for chain management or tracking and tracing),
  • risk management, regional or global logistics systems
  • chain governance structures,
  • new business-to-business relationships that are highly responsive to dynamic consumer and market demands, etc.

They require coordination of actors and the acceptance of risk, elements that are themselves up for innovative developments. 

The food system’s dynamic interdependencies need a multidisciplinary view; research is required to cross the boundaries of traditional research lines.

Objectives

It is the objective of this Forum to provide an interdisciplinary and creative discussion environment that generates new ideas for innovative and multidisciplinary research.

Its focus is on the analysis of the food system dynamics and interdependencies; the identification of drivers for sustainable system dynamics in the decision sphere of the system actors (e.g. chain management, consumers, agencies, policy, ets.); and on the identification and promotion of potential system innovations. .