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Abstract

Although research on sustainable procurement is increasing, little empirical research has been done on how sustainable procurement is established between companies. Therefore, drawing on supply chain management and purchasing management literature, this study explores how food industries manage sustainable supplier relationships. Through the identification of company clusters with typical sustainable procurement approaches, the paper contributes to the supply chain management literature. A questionnaire is applied to gather data amongst Dutch Food and Beverage companies from which 62 could be used for the analyses (effective response rate 28.9%). Cluster analysis revealed four types of companies with distinctive sustainable procurement relationships: market relationships (arms-length), sustainability leader, one-sided sustainability (interested supplier but less interested buyer), and inconclusive sustainability (buyer and suppliers only made a start). As the implementation of sustainable procurement remains low in practice, insights from this study are important for managers.

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