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Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract. 2003 Jul;19(2):445-61.

Food retailing and food service.

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Department of Agricultural Economics, Texas A&M University, Blocker Building 330, 525 Ireland Street, College Station, TX 77843-2124, USA.


The food retailing and food service sector is not only an important component of the food marketing channel but is also vital to the United States economy, accounting for more than 7% of the United States gross domestic product in 2001. The business of food retailing and food service is undergoing salient change. The authors argue that the singular force driving this change is the consumer. To understand the linkages in the food marketing channel, this article provides information on the farm-to-retail price spread and the economic forces that influence their magnitude. Examples are given of farm-to-retail price spreads for red meat and dairy industries. In addition, the economics behind the provision of retail services and the growth of the food service industry are discussed. Further, the authors demonstrate that the structure of the food market channel is consumer driven, and present three characteristics of convenience (preparation, delivery, and service) and identify four food distribution channels in terms of convenience (complete convenience, traditional food service, consumer direct, and traditional retail).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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