Major consolidation, horizontal and vertical integration together with increased global competition at all stages of food production are combining to create a shift from a food supply chain to a food demand chain, according to a soon-to-be released report.
The emergence of around six global "agribusinesses" only serves to exacerbate the trend, the study warns.
The report: "Does the Structure of Europe's Food Supply Chain Work For or Against Our Environmental Objectives?", by Ethical Corporation Magazine, reviews Europe-wide food production, processing and retail networks, focusing on the effects of large-scale consolidation, food clustering and agricultural intensification on markets and the environment.
Data from over 320 accredited pan-European sources has been collated to illustrate the report's key thrust - the shift from a food supply chain to a food demand chain. The report provides industry stakeholders with a clear explanation of the trends that are shaping the future of retail, processing, production, policy, environmental issues and institutional investment in the food system.
"It's all there - everything from the percentage of Spanish land at immediate risk of desertification to the millilitres of kerosene it takes to put an apple in your shop," said John Bodenham, the report's co-author and organiser of the related European Food Supply Chains 2003 Conference.
"Readers will discover how many grocers are trading in Southern Italy and why 1.5 million Polish farmers are about to lose their jobs - more than that, they will discover why there is a link between the two - and what it means for their businesses."
Risk exposure is an increasing concern for companies involved in large-scale diversification throughout the food supply chain - the report outlines the threats and opportunities presented by vertical integration from seed to supermarket for enterprises contemplating such a move.
The report also evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of Europe's retailers, processors and growers, as well as trends in branding and consumer spending. A detailed analysis of the environmental impact of agricultural intensification and biodiversity issues is also provided.
The report will be released to coincide with the announcement of the speaker roster for the European Food Supply Chains 2003 Conference to be held in Brussels on November 5-6, 2003. The event will be Europe's first-ever independent forum to address the concerns of retailers, processors, growers and environmentalists about the risks to the food supply chain in the EU and beyond.
Further details of the reports findings will be given when it is officially launched, in mid-August.