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E-commerce and the Agrifood Supply Chain

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 5, 2018 10:15 AM - 12:15 PM

Loews Philadelphia, PSFS
Hosted By: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association
  • Chair: Thomas Reardon, Michigan State University

Formation and Evolution of Rural E-commerce Villages in China: Theory and Empirical Evidences

Yiwu Zeng
Zhejiang University
Hongdong Guo
Zhejiang University
Songqing Jin
Michigan State University


The objective of this paper is twofold: first, we try to understand the driving forces behind
the formation and evolution of rural e-commerce villages; second, we look at the impact of
household participation in rural e-commerce on household production decisions, income
and overall welfare. We theorize the processes behind the formation of Taobao villages
under different settings based on existing adoption and diffusion type of framework. Our
empirical analysis will be based on household survey data that we have collected from
Shuyang County in Jiangsu China.

Food Waste and the Sharing Economy

Timothy J. Richards
Arizona State University
Stephen F. Hamilton
California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo


Wasting food is one of the rare problems that affects our ability to achieve economic goals
in terms of food security, environmental sustainability, and farm-financial security. Most
of the ideas proposed to this point involve either behavioral nudges or administrative
regulations that are either too paternalistic or piecemeal to represent viable solutions. In
this study, we investigate the potential for web-based commercial peer-to-peer mutualization systems (CPMSs), or sharing-economy forms, to emerge as market platforms for
the exchange of surplus food. If a system of CPMSs is able to develop in a self-sustaining
way, then the market prices they create will generate sufficient incentives for all actors to
manage surplus food more efficiently. We develop a theoretical model that underlines the
conditions necessary for a successful CPMS to arise, and test the predictions of this model
using data from one of the first CPMS forms in the surplus-harvest industry, CropMob-
ster, LLC. Empirical estimates of a two-sided network-demand model show that there
is sufficient demand for distribution from farmers, and end-consumer demand from both
consumers and foodservice operators, to ensure that at least one CPMS can survive in
the food waste market.

e-Marketing and Supply Chains

Liang Lu
University of California-Berkeley
Thomas Reardon
Michigan State University


This article aims at understanding how the introduction of e-commerce affects agrifood
supply chain design. We develop a conceptual framework that captures three important
elements in the supply chain: The first key element, on the downstream side, is the
tradeoff between brick-and-mortar and e-marketing, from the perspective of a consumer,
retailer, and the issues of transaction costs and technologies. The second element, on the
upstream side, is that an e-retailer has to make the choice of to what extent they have their
own storage and serve as intermediary between buyers and sellers. The third key element
is that e-commerce allows the separation between information flow and transaction. A few implications of our model will be presented. In discussion, we briefly introduce path dependency: that is, each company has its own history and relative advantage, and therefore results in different paths in choice of business models.

Collective Reputation in Online Platforms and Private Quality Standards

Jill McCluskey
Washington State University
Jason Winfree
University of Idaho


This article provides a conceptual framework to understand benefits and costs of private minimum quality standards, increasing seller reputation or warranties when there is a collective reputation for online platforms. Our framework uses a dual reputation model where consumers have a quality expectation based on the reputation of the platform and the reputation of the seller. We also analyze the benefits and costs of various types of fees associated with online platforms. We find that the optimal fee structure may depend upon weighing quality concerns with market power concerns. The optimal quality standard may also depend upon the fee structure, as well as the level of compliance to that standard.
JEL Classifications
  • O1 - Economic Development