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Cost Structure and Vertical Integration between Farming and Processing

Ola Kvaløy () and Ragnar Tveterås ()

Journal of Agricultural Economics, 2008, vol. 59, issue 2, 296-311

Abstract: In several food‐producing sectors, we observe vertical integration between the farming and processing stages. The salmon industry, which has motivated this paper, has seen a rise in large vertically integrated companies over the last decade, with direct ownership of production activities including hatcheries, fish processing and exporting. Both the farming and processing stages have become more capital intensive, which has led to a steeper U‐shaped average cost (AC) curve. In this paper we present a theoretical link between this technological shift and vertical integration: in a repeated game model of relational contracting, we show that when the AC curve is sufficiently steep, then processors and farmers are more likely to vertically integrate. The reason is that steep AC curves make it costly to deviate from the optimal production scale, which in turn makes processors more vulnerable to hold‐up and opportunistic behaviours from its suppliers.

Date: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:bla:jageco:v:59:y:2008:i:2:p:296-311