(De)constructing the Market for Animal Feeds: A Discursive Study
This paper sets out to expand the parameters of the agri-food marketing research domain through an empirical study of marketing management within the farm supply industry. Despite its size, and increasing scrutiny by government regulators, farm supplies remain poorly represented in the agri-food research literature. Our focus on 'upstream' marketing to farmers stands in contrast to the majority of 'downstream' research into either marketing by farmers, or more frequently, into institutional supply chain arrangements (e.g. farmer-supermarket relationships). Drawing upon a case study of a firm that supplies animal feeds to UK farmers, we deploy interview and documentary evidence to deconstruct market(ing) discourses within the agri-food sector. Mobilising the qualitative methodology of discourse analysis we suggest that, contrary to the assumptions embedded within the Call for Papers, our study demonstrates a highly involved set of market structures and practices, situated within a hierarchy of customer-based discourses. In taking this approach, we seek to denaturalise the assumption that 'the market' for animal feeds is an objective, and self-producing social fact. We will show how the discursive production of supply chain positions and organisational types plays a part in structuring the world of agri-food inter-organisational relationships and establishes some of the 'facts' about the world(s) into which marketing managers act.
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