ECO Farmer Age and IT Software Research
Team: Angel Cruz, Hannah Frank, Kellyn Hulsey/Spring 2014
Grower-based distributors such as Eastern Carolina Organics based in Durham, NC, seek to build value-chains between producers and final consumers. Decision-making within the entities along a value-chain are based on the entities mutual interests to be competitive in the market-place, while simultaneously building value for all members along the chain. This team analyzed two issues related to the sustainability of value-chain partnerships: the maintenance of a satisfied and consistent producer-supplier base, and the efficient management of information within the distributor. Using a survey fielded by telephone, the team collected and synthesized information on ECO farmers for the years 2004-2013, finding that farmers are dedicated and plan to continue to work with ECO in the value chain, and that the average age of farmers supplying to ECO has fallen over time, in direct contrast to USDA figures that have long-shown a troubling rise in the average age of farmers. The MBA team also investigated the availability of inventory software for grower-based distributors, finding a distinct lack of usable software in the marketplace.