Business & markets

Key research questions

  • How do we create a fairer food supply chain?
  • What are the market opportunities for the organic sector? How can they be fully exploited by supply chain members?
  • How can an integrated set of metrics be developed linking economic, social and environmental sustainability for the agricultural sector, so that informed decisions can be made by market players and policy makers? 

The importance of business and markets

Sustainable food systems and markets are inherently linked. Practitioners of the food sector are more likely to adopt sustainable and innovative practices if they are financially viable and acceptable from a socio-economic perspective. Market dynamics are a key driver of the success and continued development of the organic sector.

ORC’s research in this area is committed to identifying market opportunities for the organic food sector considering the needs and views of farmers and other market players, and to inform practitioners accordingly. We aim to lead collaboration between public and private actors to establish a comprehensive knowledge base to support market and policy decisions, in the short term, and to encourage sustainable consumption patterns in the long term.

Key elements of the theme

Organic markets, European (and British) Organic Regulation, sustainable food supply chains


The socio-economic team of ORC has been involved in a number of national and international projects, which can be grouped as follows: 

  • Projects on the collection of organic market data, funded by the UK government and the European Commission
  • Evaluation studies for the DG AGRI of the European Commission, including on added value in organic food supply chains and on the EU Organic Regulation.
  • Research projects for the organic as well as non-organic sector, mainly funded by Defra and the European Commission


Current projects

Marketing of Organics

The Marketing of Organics Project is a three-year ORC research programme, looking to identify clearer routes to growth in organic food supply chains and a better understanding of consumer perceptions of organic produce.

AGROforestry and MIXed farming systems — Participatory research to drive the transition to a resilient and efficient land use in Europe (AGROMIX)

The project investigates the opportunities given by mixed farming and agroforestry systems for carbon balance and climate change mitigation and adaptation

Relevant Publications

  • Mandolesi S, Naspetti S, Arsenos G, Caramelle-Holtz E, Latvala T, Martin-Collado D, Orsini S, Ozturk E, Zanoli, R. (2020). Motivations and Barriers for Sheep and Goat Meat Consumption in Europe: A Means–End Chain Study. Animals, 10(6), 1105. DOI: 10.3390/ani10061105
  • Smith LG, Orsini S, Mullender S, Egan J, Leake A, Woolford A, Jacobs S, Kerr R, Bowles L, Watson C, Pearce B, Lampkin N, Padel S (2019) Reviewing Opportunities, Barriers and Constraints for Organic Management Techniques to Improve Sustainability of Conventional Farming. Report to Defra on project OF03101
  • Orsini S, Padel S, Gambelli D, Lernoud J, Sanders J, Solfanelli F, Stolze M, Willer H, Zanoli R (2019). Beyond ‘mainstream’ and ‘alternative’ in organic food supply chains: empirical examples of added value distribution from eight European countries. British Food Journal, 122(3), 798-812. DOI: 10.1108/BFJ-07-2019-0508
  • Orsini S (2017) Distribution of the added value of the organic food chain ORC Bulletin No.123.
  • Sanders J, Gambelli D, Lernoud J, Orsini S, Padel S, Stolze M, Willer H, Zanoli R (2016) Distribution of the added value of the organic food chain. Thünen Institute of Farm Economics. Braunschweig.
  • Home R, Gerrard C, Hempel C, Lostak M, Vieweger A, Husak J, Stolze M, Hamm U, Padel, S, Willer H, Vairo D, Zanoli R. (2017). The quality of organic market data: providing data that is both fit for use and convenient. Organic Agriculture, 7(2), 141-152. DOI: 10.1007/s13165-016-0147-5
  • Zanoli R, Vairo D, Solfanelli F, Padel S, Gerrard C, Lampkin, N (eds.) (2014). Manual and Code of Practice for the initiation and maintenance of good organic market data collection and publication procedures. UVP Marche, Ancona.

ORC Researchers and staff

These ORC team members are currently involved in business and market projects:
Senior Organic Business and Markets Researcher
Market and Business Researcher