Inderscience Publishers

The R&D priorities of leading food firms and long-term innovation in the agro food system

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This article analyses a range of literature dealing with the issue of innovation in the agro food industry, focusing in particular on the dynamics of R&D. It presents and discusses the view that low levels of internal R&D among the sector's leading firms, when compared with chemicals or pharmaceuticals, are consistent with strategies devoted primarily to superficial product innovation. As against such an interpretation, it presents arguments which point to a systematic long-term effort towards increasing control over the biological processes, which lie at the heart of the food industry on the basis of inter-sectoral technology flows. In the light of these considerations, and bearing in mind more recent research pointing to significant in-house research activity by leading agro food firms, the article concludes with an appreciation of the way in which the industry is currently responding to the challenges and opportunities of advances in biotechnology.

Keywords: agro food, research and development (R&, D), innovation, biotechnologies

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