What we do...

The quality of food and agricultural products is at the center of our research.

Quality plays a critical role in the functioning and performance of the agro-food sector. Our research considers quality from a variety of economic perspectives:

(i) What does ‘quality’ mean in the context of food and agricultural products, and how can we measure preferences for quality?
(ii) How does quality affect the governance of the supply chain? and
(iii) How does quality relate to sustainability?

Understanding quality and measuring preferences for quality

The quality of food and agricultural products is an intuitive but complex concept. Its definition might vary across countries, cultures and generations. Ultimately, it is the consumer who determines what quality is. Hence, understanding quality requires understanding consumers’ private preferences. In our research, we aim at improving the elicitation of private information so that our measures (obtained e.g., via choice experiments and natural field experiments) reflect true preferences to the greatest extent possible.

Quality and governance in the supply chain

The provision of quality in food and agricultural markets is fraught with difficulties due to (i) asymmetries of information and (ii) misaligned incentives. Asymmetries of information relate to the difficulties that buyers encounter in distinguishing between good and bad quality products at the time of purchase. Misaligned incentives emerge when the goals of different actors along the supply chain conflict.

We study how appropriate forms of governance of the supply chain can mitigate such difficulties and, in turn, how such difficulties transform the governance of the supply chain and affect economic efficiency, the performance of the supply chain and the distribution of value across different actors of the supply chain. Current projects consider in particular the issues of transparency and unfair trading practices due to imbalances in bargaining power of large and small firms.
Quality and sustainability
Among the many aspects that determine the overall quality of a product, sustainability is a particularly relevant one (understood as ecologic integrity, social well-being, economic resilience and good governance). We tackle the issue of sustainability from the perspective of different actors in the agro-food supply chain.

Agribusiness in developing countries
Finally, our research also considers the well-being of farmers in developing countries and their involvement in markets and organizations. For example, we are working on a project proposal to investigate the determinants of credit access for smallholders in Kenya. In Cameroon we are investigating farmers’ flood risk perceptions and management strategies.

Prof. Menapace's Academic Career and Research Areas

Professor Menapace’s research focuses on the structure, functioning, and role of markets and organizations in agribusiness. Her research addresses issues related to product differentiation, product quality, and information with emphasis on the institutional aspects of consumer and competition policy, sustainability, intellectual property, and their implications for agribusiness governance. Her research incorporates insights from experimental and behavioral economics to explain consumers’ food purchase decisions and choices under risk and uncertainty.

Professor Menapace holds a Laurea degree in Agricultural Sciences (University of Padua, Italy), a Master degree in Agribusiness (Sacred Heart Catholic University, Italy), and a PhD in Economics (Iowa State University, USA). After completing her PhD, she worked as a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Economics at the University of Trento, Italy (2010-2012), and as an assistant professor at the University of Bonn, Germany (2012-2013). In August 2013, she was appointed as Tenure-Track BayWa endowed professorship ''Governance in International Agribusiness'' at TUM.