Quality Assurance Mechanisms in Agrifood: The Case of the Spanish Fresh Meat Sector
González-Díaz, Manuel, Marta Barcala and Benito Arruñada (2003), “Quality Assurance Mechanisms in Agrifood: The Case of the Spanish Fresh Meat Sector,” joint special issue of the International Journal of Technology Management and the International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology, 2(3/4), 361-82.
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The largest fresh meat brand names in Spain are analyzed here to study how quality is signaled in agribusiness and how the underlying quality-assurance organizations work. Results show, first, that organizational form varies according to the specialization of the brand name. Publicly-controlled brand names are grounded on market contracting with individual producers, providing stronger incentives. In contrast, private brands rely more on hierarchy, taking advantage of its superiority in solving specific coordination problems. Second, the seemingly redundant coexistence of several quality indicators for a given product is explained in efficiency terms. Multiple brands are shown to be complementary, given their specialization in guaranteeing different attributes of the product.