From fork to farm - demand chain management in the agro-food business : with application to the Rio Grande do Sul beef business

M.D. Canever

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


Demand chain management (DCM) is a business philosophy which objectives to understand customer demand and meeting this demand with possible alternatives through the deployment of chain processes. DCM is a new paradigm in the business terrain, and it was defined in this study as: the business practice aimed at understanding and managing the customer demand and at aligning all activities throughout the chain that simultaneously create both customer and enterprise values. DCM is an extension of SCM, but with a strong emphasis on demand management due to the incorporation of the market orientation perspective on its concept. It goes beyond extant SCM literature because it considers the customer as the point of origin of any business activity, and comprises both demand orientation strategy (which is the source of business effectiveness) and supply oriented strategy (which is source of business efficiency). DCM contributes for the business thinking by acknowledging that efficiency is necessary but not sufficient forbringing improvements in the enterprise's level of competitiveness. As DCM is a newly-formed concept the knowledge to bring it into reality is still scarce. The aim of this thesis is to empirical analyse the concept of DCM and propose tools for its implementation. The problem statement reads as:How can DCM be brought into reality? In the course of this study we responded four major research questions: 1)Is DCM an answer to what is happening in business? 2) How to cope with demand differentiation for making DCM explicit and actionable? 3) How can consumer demand be identified and quantified in a format that is actionable for demand chain design? And 4) What steps and trade-offs are required for the implementation of DCM?The empirical setting of this thesis is theRio Grandedo Sul beef business.Rio Grandedo Sul is located in the South of Brazil, near to the board ofUruguayandArgentina. Livestock production is one of the most important agriculture activities and the state has the highest per capita beef consumption inBrazil. Despite that most companies are still commodity oriented and price primacy has been the key feature in the competitive context, nowadays strategies such as segmentation and branding have started to play a role in the business. In the last decade new competitors have entered the local market, a new pattern of beef distribution has emerged as a result of the concentration of supermarkets, and consumers have become more selective about where they buy, what they buy and the price they pay for the products. Many small and medium-sized companies are striving to survive, while others have been extremely successful because they have identified specific market segments and tailored the supply chain to match the requirements of these segments. Consequently, theRio Grandedo Sul beef business seems particularly suited to illustrate the applicability of DCM as conceptualized in the first chapter of this thesis.The first chapter introduces the research and describes the key developments observed in the contemporary business and in the extant literature that made us to formulate the problem statement and the research questions. Chapter 2 starts with an overview of the business system changes that have taken place in the past few decades. In addition, this chapter deals with the concepts of supply chain management and its evolution into demand chain management. To illustrate this, a case study incorporating the two different types of business orientation based on the beef chain inRio Grandedo Sul is presented along with a description of the key differences between DCM and SCM paradigms. Chapter 3 presents a study to determine the consumer goal structure triggered by three situational variables associated with the consumption situation, namely: the hedonic focus, the utilitarian focus, and conspicuousness. First the conceptual model linking consumer values and benefits with the three situational variables is presented. After this, the hypotheses are formulated and tested. Overall, this chapter shows that (1) some values are significantly associated with the three situational dimensions, (2) some values, as well as the perceived hedonic orientation and conspicuousness of consumption situations have a direct main effect on the benefits sought, and (3) values sometimes moderate the effects of situational dimensions on benefits sought. Through making these relationships explicit the chapter contributes for understanding the demand heterogeneity, which is an essential step for turning demand chain a reality. Chapter 4 presents a sequential benefit-feature segmentation model appropriated for designing responses in the demand chain according to specific segment needs. The chapter starts with an overview of market segmentation theory, and thus advances the sequential model. The sequential model was tested against the benefit segmentation approach and feature segmentation approach in terms of statistical properties and usefulness for managers' decision-making in the beef chain. In conclusion, this chapter shows that benefit-feature importance segmentation yields more homogeneous and actionable segments, and may hold promise as a tool to improve market segmentation for strategy design in the chain arena. Chapter 5 describes a demand chain design framework. The framework was built on the basis of quality function deployment (QFD) and involves six closely interrelated steps: market demand identification; choosing segments; translation of segment demand into chain processes; breaking processes into chain tasks and assets; coordination mechanism delineation and; chain members' selection. Chapter 6 consists of the conclusions and implications of the study. Then, limitations and future avenues for research in the area of DCM are presented. Overall, the results of this thesis contribute to a better conceptualization of DCM and suggest tools that could support its implementation.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Beers, George, Promotor
  • van Trijp, Hans, Promotor
  • van der Lans, Ivo, Co-promotor
Award date23 Oct 2006
Place of Publication[S.l.]
Print ISBNs9789085044802
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2006


  • food chains
  • management
  • consumers
  • demand
  • beef
  • consumption
  • brazil
  • supply chain management
  • agro-industrial chains


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