Brewing up resilience in supply chains research network (BURNS)

The sustainability of international agricultural supply chains is fast becoming an important issue. The World Bank forecasts that demand in the next five years for key agricultural commodities will outstrip supply due to several challenges including climate change, volatile pricing and an ageing farming population.

Practitioner groups argue that sustainable governance arrangements between Northern actors and Southern producers leads to more resilient supply chains.  However, the mechanisms by which this may be achieved are not clear, especially since the adoption of sustainability standards may limit the ability of producers to withstand shocks through the adoption of monoculture and dependent supply chain relations.  Conversely, some supply chain relationships may enhance resilience, e.g. through reduced supplier default.  Moreover, resilience in supply chains remains under-theorised, with few connections to the emerging theory on sustainable supply chains.

Hence the overall aim for BURNS is to better understand and begin to theorise the factors that underpin resilient supply chains, whilst recognising the diversity of practice across chains, commodities and supply chain actors.