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Traceability in the Greek fresh produce sector: drivers and constraints

Manos, Basil, Manikas, Ioannis
British food journal 2010 v.112 no.6-7 pp. 640-652
cooperatives, food labeling, food industry, automation, information exchange, value added, packing houses, qualitative analysis, supply chain, traceability, Greece
Purpose – In this paper, the key drivers and constraints for implementing traceability are examined in the Greek fresh produce supply chain. The main objective is to identify the main factors affecting the implementation of traceability schemes, under the current supply chain structure and evaluate the theoretical framework identified in the literature. Design/methodology/approach – A specific executive research was conducted, including interviews with key representatives of the sector. The scope of the research was to collect qualitative data with the aid of an unstructured questionnaire with no close-ended questions. The research sample included 22 agricultural cooperatives and private packinghouses located in northern Greece where the core value adding activities of the fresh produce supply chain are taking place. Northern Greece is of high importance for the examined sector as a high percentage of all value adding activities, from production to distribution, are taking place within this region. Findings – In the fresh produce supply chains ephemeral dynamic collaborations prevail which do not allow particular transparency with regard to the exchange of information between their members. Severe inequities recognized between supply chain members regarding their ability to imply traceability systems effectively, their current technological and operational status and the availability to undertake the cost of investment in such systems. Tight profit margins and inadequate knowledge on potential benefits of traceability systems are reported as some of the main factors that hinder investments on sophisticated traceability schemes. Adequate labeling automation with the implementation of machine-readable labeling technologies and the introduction of web-based technologies as a low cost solution are estimated to improve fresh produce traceability and logistics efficiency. Originality/value – Within a limited number of research papers on fresh produce traceability, there is no reference to the Greek produce sector. Thus, this paper progresses knowledge of the Greek produce industry regarding perspectives and key drivers for traceability implementation, supported by the thorough review of the literature.