Opportunities and realities of supply chain integration: The case of food manufacturers

Dirk Pieter van Donk*, Renzo Akkerman, Taco van der Vaart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - The purpose of the paper is to investigate the limitations and barriers for supply chain integration that food manufacturers experience and to highlight their planning and scheduling problems. Possible ways to cope with these are offered.

Design/methodology/approach - The paper is theoretical/conceptual in nature: the findings are illustrated in an explorative case study.

Findings - It is often suggested that food supply chains are typical for what can be achieved in supply chain management. This paper challenges this belief by investigating the possibilities and limitations for supply chain integration for food manufacturers. The authors argue that a combination of typical food characteristics and the use of shared resources limit the possibility for integration, while uncertainties and complex business conditions increase the need for integration. In a case study, the paper explores alternatives to cope with that situation.

Research limitations/implications - The paper is based on previous empirical work, which is applied and further developed in a case-study setting of a consumer product food manufacturer. The authors argue that the case has several generic characteristics, but further research is needed to test the main ideas in a wider context.

Practical implications - Production managers and planners in food manufacturing are often aware of the described situation, but general managers, marketing managers, and supply chain managers can learn that there are limits to aligning operations to customers. The paper offers a number of solutions that might assist production managers in better understanding their situation and thinking about improvements.

Originality/value - The paper introduces buyer focus, shared resources and the limitations of supply chain integration into the field of food supply chains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-235
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Food Journal
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • supply chain management buyers
  • resources
  • food industry

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