Forecasting food supply chain developments in lagging rural regions: Evidence from the UK

Brian Ilbery, Damian Maye, Moya Kneafsey, Tim Jenkins, Catherine Walkley

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    89 Citations (Scopus)


    Endemic problems in EU 'lagging rural regions' (LRRs) are well documented and various support mechanisms have long been in place to help overcome structural difficulties. Nevertheless, new rural development architectures are now being sought and some scholars have posited that LRRs may benefit from the 'quality (re)turn' in food and a relative shift from long to short food supply chains. The ways in which this 'new agriculture' relates to rural development in lagging regions sound fine in theory. However, in practice it is far from clear what will actually happen, where and how. This paper attempts to answer some of these questions and, using a Delphi technique, to forecast those factors likely to influence supply chain development and performance in two LRRs in the UK: West Wales and the Scottish-English Borders. The findings suggest that while most experts willingly accept the socio-economic values that can be gained by localising, shortening and synergising the food chain in LRRs, there are also important barriers that question the emergence of such an agrarian based rural development dynamic. These include the small number and size of 'alternative' producers in both locales, with most still locked into industrial forms of production; the restrictive influence of bureaucracy; the shortfall of key intermediaries in both regions' food chains; and the poor provision of key physical infrastructures (e.g. roads, railway and telecommunications). The Delphi method also reveals how expert opinions about rural development in LRRs are contingent and contested, with contradictions emerging within, as well as between, rounds.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)331-344
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Rural Studies
    Issue number3
    Early online date21 Jun 2004
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2004


    • Delphi technique
    • Food supply chains
    • Lagging rural regions
    • Rural development dynamic
    • The UK

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geography, Planning and Development
    • Development
    • Sociology and Political Science


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