AGRI-FOOD ECONOMICS

Teachers: 
Credits: 
6
Year of erogation: 
2021/2022
Unit Coordinator: 
Disciplinary Sector: 
Rural economy and evaluation
Semester: 
First semester
Year of study: 
1
Language of instruction: 

Italian

Learning outcomes of the course unit

Understanding the Italian and European agri-food system, both with a supply chain and sectorial perspective. In particular, the course aims to:
- develop the knowledge of issues concerning the role of agriculture and the agri-food system in the economic development, the characteristics of the demand and supply of food products, the functioning and organization of the agri-food system and the companies involved;
- deepen the theoretical and operational implications deriving from the presence of market failures (externalities / public goods, transaction costs and information asymmetry);
- provide the tools to understand current food quality policies on national and international markets and their strategic role for agri-food companies.
The expected learning outcomes are:
1) Knowledge and understanding: knowledge of the organization of the agri-food system and of the management and marketing of agri-food companies; knowledge of food quality schemes in the agri-food sector (voluntary certifications, geographical indications, etc.); knowledge of the main sustainability dimensions related with the agri-food system.
2) Application skills: apply the principles of differential calculus to the analysis of simple economic models; assess the food quality from an economic and marketing perspective; apply the organizational knowledge of the agri-food system to real case studies; identify and evaluate the sustainability factors of the agri-food chains; identify the marketing levers suitable for each food.
3) Independent judgment: evaluation and interpretation of simple mathematical models; develop a scientific approach to bioethical problems (e.g. GMOs); evaluate the quality-price ratio of food (value for money); critical use of data from scientific literature; evaluation of teaching.
4) Communication skills: written and oral communication through the scientifically correct vocabulary of the subject; ability to present, transmit and disseminate information on topics related to food (from production to consumption); ability to communicate with experts or non-experts in the food production sector, and when initiated to work to superiors and / or customers; ability to communicate and collaborate in group work in the food sector.
5) Ability to learn: ability to consult bibliographic material, databases relating to food (including market data) and regulatory tools related with food; ability to critically consult food-related websites; develop a scientific approach to bioethical issues related to the production, trade and consumption of food; ability to participate in seminars and training study days; ability to successfully carry out the Master's Degree courses of the LM70 class and in particular the Master's Degree course in Food Science and Technology.

Prerequisites

Propaedeutic courses are not required

Course contents summary

The course, after a brief introduction illustrating the main analytical tools of microeconomics (demand and supply market, theory of production), explores the aspects of the agri-food system and food demand. In particular, it analyzes the quality issues related to private and public standards and guarantee schemes, as well as private company strategies. A specific part of the course aims to analyze the distinctive characteristics and behavior management of agricultural and food cooperatives.

Course contents

1) Micro-economics: demand and supply; perfect competitive markets; theory of production.
2) Agri-food system organisation: supply chain; vertical and horizontal integration process.
3) Cooperatives and producer’s associations: cooperatives’ role in the agri-food system; elements of the cooperatives’ balance sheet.
4) Sustainability in the agri-food sector, evolution of the concept, environmental, social and economic sustainability of the short supply chains, sustainable diets, food loss and waste;
5) Quality specification in the agri-food system and Geographical Indications: quality attributes of food products; asymmetric information, moral hazard and adverse selection; compulsory public regulations; voluntary certification schemes; economics of traditional and quality certified products (e.g. PDO/PGI).

Recommended readings

- Textbook edited by the teacher "Agrifood Economics ".
- Further readings will be uploaded on the Elly's course webpage.
- For international students (e.g. Erasmus) separate material will be provided in English through the Elly portal.

Teaching methods

Lessons will be organized face-to-face with the possibility of using the lessons also remotely in synchronous (via Teams) and/or asynchronous mode (uploaded on the Elly page of the course).
The teaching will be carried out through lectures in the classroom with the help of slides that will represent teaching material, in addition to the recommended text. The slides will be available online on the Elly website in pdf format for students. The lessons also include the discussion of examples of the most recent real cases. For this reason, the slides, which are gradually updated for each topic, will be uploaded to Elly before each topic covered and not all together at the beginning of the course. During the lessons, the appropriate use of technical language will be reiterated, and the links between the various parts of the course will be emphasized. For this reason, the presence and active participation of students is strongly encouraged.

Assessment methods and criteria

At the end of the course, the learning level of the expected results will be verified for all the contents offered during the lessons.
The final exam will be written with mainly closed-answer questions and at least one open-ended question.
The student’s knowledge will be evaluated with questions concerning the whole program, namely 1) Institution of economics, 2) Organization of the agro-food system, 3) Cooperatives and producer organizations, 4) Sustainability in the agri-food sector, 5) Quality regulation in the agri-food sector and Geographical Indications. The competences that will be evaluated concern the student's ability to apply these concepts to case studies proposed during the exam by the professor.
In the test, each of the closed-ended questions will be awarded one point for each correct answer, while there are no penalties for incorrect answers. Therefore, the maximum score obtainable will be 30/30. The open question(s) will be corrected only if the student has obtained a minimum score of 18/30 in the test.
The criteria used to evaluate the student on the open answer question(s) are: a) ability to elaborate the knowledge transmitted during the course, applying them to the concrete cases proposed by the teacher in the exam question(s); b) ability to argue their answers with references to economic theories, possibly through the use of formulas and graphs, to analyze from an economic point of view the proposed case studies, c) methods of linguistic exposure and use of specific terminology . For each open-ended question, these three indicators will be weighed as follows: a) 50%, b) 30%, c) 20%. Closed-ended questions will be multiple-choice questions in which the student must indicate the correct answer(s), or the wrong answer(s).
The final score will be determined as follows: a score out of thirty will be assigned for the open-ended question(s) using the weights for the three criteria. A weighted average of the scores will be carried out, considering a weight of 50% for the evaluation of the test, and of 50% for the evaluation obtained in the open-ended question(s). To obtain the sufficiency the candidate needs an overall score greater than or equal to 18.
The exam results are published on the ESSE3 portal (https://unipr.esse3.cineca.it/Home.do) within a reasonable time compatible with the number of students enrolled. Students can view the exam by making an appointment with the teacher.
If it is impossible to take the written exam in classroom due to rules imposed by the University, the exam will be carried out remotely through an interview through Teams.
The assessment of the level of knowledge acquired also takes into consideration how the student is able to express himself correctly, with the specific scientific language of economics.

Other informations

In case of serious health emergency, the methods of teaching and verifying learning may undergo changes which will be promptly communicated on Elly and/or on the course website.