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Investigating farmers' involvement in value-added activities: A preliminary study from Australia

Alonso, A.D. and Northcote, J. (2013) Investigating farmers' involvement in value-added activities: A preliminary study from Australia. British Food Journal, 115 (10). pp. 1407-1427.

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Purpose – Multifunctional agriculture, including value-added agriculture, has drawn the attention of different stakeholders (government, farmers) interested in maximising the potential of farming operations and strengthening rural communities. This preliminary study aims to investigate value-added agriculture, including the extent to which food growers consider, or are involved in, this aspect of multifunctional agriculture, from the perspective of orchard operators located in different Australian states.

Design/methodology/approach – Orchard operators were contacted through regional growers' associations and by mail. A total of 80, the large majority of whom are small orchardists, participated in the study, completing a questionnaire designed to collect both quantitative and qualitative data.

Findings – Overall, there is moderate interest among the participating orchard operators in adding value to food production. Respondents also indicate barriers in the form of added expenses, lack of time, knowledge, and markets, to sell value-added products.

Research limitations/implications – This study has only provided preliminary data from a limited number of participants; future research could broaden the scope to gather the insights of more orchard operators or even study other rural food-growing sectors.

Practical implications – With increasing pressures on the farmland, the findings have several implications, in particular, the need to understand the cost-benefits involved in value adding activities and potential cost-savings strategies.

Originality/value – In the case of Australian agriculture, little has been discussed about the extent to which value-added food production is being considered among food growers, for instance, using commercial kitchens to process foods that do not sell as “premium.” The present study examines this unexplored dimension and seeks to provide useful preliminary information.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Publisher: Emerald
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