A new model of organization is beginning to pop up in the agribusiness sector that seeks to merge social mission objectives with core business operating principles. Known as food value chains, these business arrangements are distinguished by their commitment to transparency, collaborative business planning and exchange of market intelligence and business knowhow among chain partners, and their interest in developing business strategies and solutions that yield tangible benefits to each participant in the system. The advent of low-cost communications technology has made possible new collaborative approaches to business management and oversight that operate according to a set of shared operational and ethical principles, founded on the idea of maintaining steady and open communication among all chain partners.
This document provides guidance on how food value chains are initiated and structured, how they function, and the benefits they provide to participants, with the intent of encouraging their adoption where the opportunities for successful collaboration exist among organizations with compatible principles and complementary areas of expertise. It addresses which characteristics are desirable—and not—when seeking appropriate value-chain partners, and provides examples of how participation in a food value chain can be advantageous to all members. Special attention is devoted to exploring how values-based operating principles are defined and maintained in a food value chain and how these values are successfully communicated to buyers and to the public. The document also addresses the issue of shared leadership and succession-planning strategies within value-chain partnerships.