Reducing food loss through sustainable business models and agricultural innovation systems

Subhanjan Sengupta, Sonal Choudhary*, Raymond Obayi, Rakesh Nayak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: In this study, we explore how sustainable business models (SBM) can be developed within agri-innovation systems (AIS) and emphasise an integration of the two with a systemic understanding for reducing food loss and value loss in postharvest agri-food supply chain.

Methodology: We conducted longitudinal qualitative research in a developing country with food loss challenges in the postharvest supply chain. We collected data through multiple rounds of field work, interviews, and focus groups over 4 years. Thematic analysis and ‘sensemaking’were used for inductive data analysis to generate rich contextual knowledge by drawing upon the lived realities of the agri-food supply chain actors.

Findings: First, we find that the value losses are varied in the supply chain, encompassing production value, intrinsic value, extrinsic value, market value, institutional value, and future food value. This happens through two cumulative effects including multiplier losses, where losses in one model cascade into others, amplifying their impact, and stacking losses, where the absence of data stacks or infrastructure pools hampers the realisation of food value. Thereafter, we propose four strategies for moving from the loss incurring current business model to a networked SBM for mitigating losses. This emphasises the need to redefine ownership as stewardship, enable formal and informal beneficiary identification, strengthen value addition, and build capacities for empowering communities to benefit from networked SBM with AIS initiatives. Finally, we put forth ten propositions for future research in aligning AIS with networked SBM.

Originality: This study contributes to understanding the interplay between AIS and SBM; emphasising the integration of the two to effectively address food loss challenges in the early stages of agri-food supply chains. The identified strategies and research propositions provide implications for researchers and practitioners seeking to accelerate sustainable practices for reducing food loss and waste in agri-food supply chains.

Keywords: food loss and waste, agri-food supply chains, sustainable business model, agricultural innovation system
Original languageEnglish
JournalSupply Chain Management: an International Journal
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 27 Nov 2023

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