As customers get more demanding in product specifications and supply chains get longer and more complex, producers’ requirements for better information systems increase markedly, accentuating scale economies. Firm size in Australian food and fibre industries appears to be far below the optimum and, since this leads to higher unit costs, competitiveness is diminished. Australian governments encourage vertical integration, but largely ignore the horizontal integration required to make it viable. The paper outlines a the justification for a recently funded South Australian Government project and its scope, which includes: estimation of optimal firm size in SA food and fibre industries; estimation of the economic, social and environmental pay-off from structural adjustment; evaluation of the factors inhibiting evolution of more efficient industry structures; and development of socially optimal strategies for encouraging that evolution.


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