SR9241 - Assessing the Competitiveness of Ontario Food Processing Industry: A Capability Development and Stakeholder Engagement Approach

The Ministry funded this project through the 2010-11 New Directions Research program.

Lead Researcher

Dr. Erna Van Duren, Department of Business, College of Management and Economics, University of Guelph


  1. Develop a conceptual approach that enables policy makers and business and organization decision makers to understand which factors influence competitiveness and at which levels of the external and internal contexts in which they manage these factors are controlled or influenced (Appendix 1).
  2. Measure the degree of competitiveness of Ontario's food processing using
    • standard techniques
    • one trial innovative technique (for example, scenario based assessment of the influence of various drivers or competitiveness at the industry and firm level)
  3. Engage industry, other research institutes and government in the research process to enhance the ability of diverse stakeholders to understand others' perspectives and needs.
  4. Assess the drivers and dynamics that enhance or impede competitiveness and identify public policy and organizationally controlled variables that could be used to enhance industry competitiveness
  5. Develop the human capital of future industry decision maker, policy analysts and others.
  6. Contribute to the ongoing development of the College of Management and Economics and OAC's ability to train undergraduate and graduate students for management and related careers in Ontario's agrifood sector
  7. Provide workshops, web-based communications and other knowledge transfer vehicles that will engage businesses, industry associations, academics and policy makers in developing relevant research and results.

Expected Benefits

The research will provide knowledge to improve understanding of macro, general industry, specific industry, value chain and company specific factors that can be controlled or influenced in order to enhance the food processing industry competitiveness (business/organizational action, public policy and programs).


  1. A competitive food processing sector is one key to a profitable, sustainable and innovative Ontario farm/food community.
  2. Engagement of industry stakeholders in the research process will strengthen value-chain collaboration and the ability of diverse industry participants to understand others' perspectives, needs and challenges and strategically orient their individual and joint activities to gain international market share. Engagement will be accomplished through research workshops, the use of an advisory board and the research methods themselves.
  3. On-going engagement of other research institutes will ensure that their current research projects (e.g. Conference Board of Canada's agri-food competiveness research, the collaboration of George Morris Centre with the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity) are informed by this project's results and vice versa.
  4. Use of undergraduate and graduate research assistants, who are supported by course options through the College of Management and Economics that develop their consulting, industry, analytical and communications abilities, will create a foundation of skills and knowledge which will continue to contribute to the human capital of the industry as these students enter the work force
  5. Scholarly research that is conducted by a diverse team comprising researchers with expertise in economics, strategic management, operations/value chain management, public policy and policy processes and financial management along with decades of industry and related experience, will ensure that all analysis is methodologically sound yet innovative, but informed and validated by practical business and policy contexts.

The multiple year approach to the research expands its scope and provides opportunities to build upon lessons learned.


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Related Information

For more information:
Author: Ainsely Archer, Research Analyst/RIB
Creation Date: 08 July 2011
Last Reviewed: 25 August 2011