This article investigates whether sectoral entrepreneurship by ethnic minorities is held back by network disconnection. Popular interest in localized production and consumption often gets offered up as an antidote to rapidly globalizing markets. However, fractures between local production and consumption prevent such markets from developing. This study investigates supply chains and networks that attempt to meet market demand for ‘specialist’ fresh produce, targeted at and run by ethnic minority-controlled foodservice businesses in the UK. The focus for attention is the West Midlands region. This region has a strong and entrepreneurial ethnic minority, predominant foodservice and wholesale sector and a strong agricultural/horticultural tradition, but the two are disconnected. Key findings indicate that latent demand exists for locally sourced specialist fresh produce to meet the needs of a growing ethnic minority population, but network integration is a barrier. Disconnection concerns the following: (a) there are predominant issues of price sensitivity, which dictate channel sourcing and market development, (b) foodservice businesses rely on the access, market information and availability provided by gatekeeper wholesale traders who are bound to overseas agencies and their produce and display an ingrained resistance to local and regional supply and (c) cultural disconnections separate rural (predominantly ‘white’) growers and (predominantly Asian) wholesale intermediaries and retail/foodservice businesses. This article identifies that ethnic entrepreneurship in specific sectors (such as specialist fresh produce) can be strong, but that there still are barriers to successful whole industry, regional and network developments. Poor motivation of both network ‘gatekeeper’ wholesalers and (and network collaboration) growers is preventing ethnic entrepreneurs at the foodservice and retail levels from benefitting from wider regional network source innovation. Recommendations are made for production, technical and marketing support at the grower and intermediary levels; and all stakeholders need educational and market support in the development of truly integrated food networks.
Hingley, M., Lindgreen, A., & Beverland, M. (2010). Barriers to Network Innovation in U.K. Ethnic Fresh Produce Supply. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 22(1), 77-96. https://doi.org/10.1080/08985620903220538