FOOD MARKETING IN AN ELECTRONIC AGE: IMPLICATIONS FOR AGRICULTURAL PRODUCERS
The most efficient food delivery system in the world is becoming even more so with new electronic information gathered at the checkout counter and quickly transmitted to food distributors and manufacturers. In order to meet new competition in the retail market for food and food services, traditional grocery stores and their suppliers are redesigning how they present, order and distribute products. This effort is called Efficient Consumer Response (ECR). It is a system whereby consumer preferences, expressed through their purchases, are revealed to food manufacturers and then back to producers. Commodities with special characteristics for preferred types of food are pulled out of the food and agricultural system as opposed to being pushed out in bulk with the hope that someone will buy them. The implications for agriculture are that farmers will increasingly be producing commodities with specific attributes called for by food processors who are responding to retail demand. Traditional patterns of farming will change; more product will be produced for niche markets and for international tastes. More value will be added to the raw commodity closer to the land through genetics, breeding, and special attention to production techniques. There will be higher pay-off for the entrepreneur on the farm, but the risks will increase as well as the pace of change.
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