Impact of Traceability Technology Adoption in Food Supply Chain Networks

Lingxiu Dong, Puping Jiang, Fasheng Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Improving traceability in food supply chains has been a big part of ongoing effort to reduce contamination risks and food waste. Recent technology advancement such as blockchain technology has propelled innovative retailers to promote food traceability system adoption in their supply chains. We develop a three-tier supply chain model with multiple upstream (tier 2) suppliers to investigate how traceability technology adoption affects incentives of supply chain members and whether and how its anticipated benefits can be realized. We find that full traceability brings direct revenue benefit to every supply chain member by saving uncontaminated food from disposal (pure traceability effect) but also leaves each tier of the supply chain vulnerable to its immediate downstream buyer’s exploitation through strategically lowering the purchasing price (strategic pricing effect). The interplay of the two effects may result in some of the supply chain members (even the retailer) being worse off with traceability adoption and the system being exposed to higher contamination risk; the latter is because of the weakened upstream supplier’s incentive to exert contamination risk-reduction effort. Moreover, we find that the supply chain network structure also influences the benefit distribution of traceability adoption: The retailer always benefits from traceability adoption in network structures where the tier 1 supplier’s strategic pricing power is eliminated or weakened; all supply chain members benefit from traceability adoption in a network with a large number of tier 2 suppliers. Finally, we show that alternative risk-mitigation schemes such as tier 2 coordination can diminish the value of traceability adoption, and partial traceability enabled by tier 1 product inspection can be more beneficial to the retailer than full traceability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1518-1535
Number of pages18
JournalManagement Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • food contamination
  • multitier food supply chain
  • technology adoption
  • traceability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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