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Abstract

In the last years European farmers have been facing two new phenomena: the asymmetric price transmission in agro-food sector and the decrease of agricultural value added. The European Commission denounced low transparency in trade relationships and frequent unfair commercial practices between firms and recognized the imperfect functioning of the agro-food supply chain. Economic theories consider contracts as means coordinating entrepreneurs’ decisions (e.g. times, quantity and quality of products, prices). Nevertheless, in some cases buyers may use them to improve and exercise their market power, for instance imposing vertical restraints. That is a typical situation in the European food supply chain, where highly concentrated sectors use their bargaining power against farmers. During that time antitrust authorities and EU Member States have sought to solve the situation by appropriate competition policy measures. The law No. 27/2012 of 24 March 2012 introduced in Italy new mandatory rules regarding contracts of sale of agriculture and food products, aimed at increasing transparency in trade and shortening terms of payment. Thanks to an holistic multiple-case study accomplished by interviews and direct observations, the article analyzes the effects that new rules caused in the Italian agrofood system.

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