|Home > Commercio elettronico per la dinamica delle catene agro-alimentari internazionali: un’analisi del potenziale|
Business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce is an innovative use of information and communication technologies and refers to the exchange of goods and related information between companies supported by Internet-based tools such as electronic marketplaces (also called electronic trade platforms) or online shops. It provides opportunities for cost-efficiency in supply chain management processes and access to new markets. With regard to the food sector with its chain levels input – agriculture – industry – retail – consumer, B2B e-commerce would take place in the exchange of food products between all levels except retail to consumer (business-to-consumer e-commerce). It is evident and widely known that B2B e-commerce brings key advantages and potentials for European consumers and the European food sector: - The affordability of high quality, traceable food for European consumers is supported as the innovation potentials from e-commerce technologies for cost-efficient processes along the food chain. The healthy choice of quality food will become the easy and affordable choice for European consumers. - The competitiveness of the European food sector with the majority of SMEs increases as B2B e-commerce technologies support cost-efficient transaction processes in food supply chains. In recent years, the availability of sophisticated B2B e-commerce technology has improved tremendously. The “European e-Business Market Watch” initiative from the Directorate-General Enterprise and Industry from the European Commission has shown that only large multinationals exploit the potentials of B2B e-commerce in the food sector for their supply chain management with their business partners. SMEs however, which create the majority of turn over in the European food sector and therefore create jobs and welfare in Europe, are reluctant to take up existing B2B e-commerce technologies into their food supply of selling. The crucial barrier to adoption is that trust between companies is not mediated appropriately by existing e-commerce technology. Currently, the barrier for food sector SMEs towards B2B e-commerce come from - the difficulty to examine the quality and safety of food products. This refers to all kinds of transactions in the food sector, whether supported by e-commerce or not. However, when it comes to e-commerce, the difficulty of physical product examination plays a much larger role as physical product inspection is not possible; - the (perceived) risk of performing a transaction via e-commerce. This includes concerns regarding secure transfer of data, or the possibly unknown transaction partner. Elements for the generation of trust between companies in the food chain and therefore of trustworthy B2B e-commerce environments for the food sector include guaranties regarding food quality, multimedia food product presentations to signal their quality, secure e-commerce technology infrastructures, third-party quality signs to be provided. As trust is highly subjective and depends on culture, food chains in different European countries with a different cultural background require different combinations of trust generating elements regarding the quality and safety of food. Different food chain scenarios with their transaction processes and risks regarding food quality and food safety and related trust elements need to be analysed and differences in trust in different European food chains need to be considered. It is the objective of this paper to identify food chains with trans-European cross-border exchange of food and international food chains in order to analyse the transaction processes and typical risks regarding food quality and food safety. The analysis focuses on trans-European cross-border and international food chains with their chain levels (e.g. production to wholesale trade, wholesale trade to industry, or wholesale trade to retail). In particular, it regards the food categories meat, grains, fresh vegetables, and fresh fruits and the particular risks regarding food quality and safety along the chains.