The process of ensuring that each successive stage in the production, processing, and marketing of a product is appropriately managed and interrelated to the next, so that decisions about what to produce, and how much, are communicated as efficiently as possible from the consumer to the producer. Agricultural economists believe that vertical coordination of markets is particularly important in the food industry because of its complexity, the large number of firms that participate in one or more stages, and the relative perishability of the products involved. Vertical integration is a type of vertical coordination, but the latter does not necessarily require that a single organization own or control all of the stages. For example, the use of contracts and marketing agreements between buyers and sellers, and the availability of timely, accurate price and other market information are methods for achieving vertical coordination.
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