Socioeconomic sustainability, food production, and food 'stakeholders': an exploratory study
Business and Law
School of Business
The socioeconomic sustainability of Europe's rural areas is of continuous concern for key stakeholders, including entrepreneurs, researchers, governmental institutions, and consumers. Against this background, this study investigates aspects related to socioeconomic sustainability based on the perceptions of cooperative managers predominantly operating in the agricultural sector. Ways of supporting the local community, challenges food producers face, strategies to improve the sector, the role of government, and the significance of adding value are explored. Respondents perceive their sector as a vital stakeholder, contributing socioeconomically to the community in various forms. They identify increased costs and excessive institutional bureaucracy as key challenges, and recognise the importance of diversifying consumer markets and educating consumers. Reducing red-tape and helping producers gain knowledge and innovate are perceived ways of government support, while improving the quality and presentation of foods are main value-adding activities. Implications of the findings are discussed and future research areas proposed.