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Land and Environment : Agribusiness Assoc. of Australia

Agribusiness Review - Vol. 6 - 1998

Paper 8
ISSN 1442-6951
Book Review

Food Marketing: An international perspective

Schaffner, D.J., Schroder, W.R. and Earle. M.D. (1998)
WCB McGraw Hill, Boston. Pp487. IBSN 0 07 057206-2

Food Marketing: An international perspective was written as an introductory text for undergraduates in agricultural business and food science, yet the book would be useful to any practitioner in the field of marketing. The strengths of the book are that the authors' analyse food marketing from the viewpoint of the consumer, recognise that different approaches and ways of thinking about marketing are required at different stages in the process, and do not neglect the role of management in marketing. While many texts on marketing emphasise one of these aspects, not many recognise the need for all three.

The first question a marketer would confront before reading a book on the subject is ‘Why be interested in food marketing?' While in essence the role of marketing in the food industries is the same as in other products, it becomes apparent early in the book that in marketing food practitioners face a more comprehensive set of problems than in any other industry. By analysing the problems evident in the food industry market, students of marketing are exposed to many similar issues raised in other industries. However, for this approach to work requires a strong focus on the objective of the process - the consumer. Unraveling the problems from the consumer through the marketing process provides students with practical solutions that are applicable to many different situations.

Another enlightening aspect of the book is the way the different approaches to analysing markets are used. A traditional divide in the marketing field has been between those who base analyses strongly on principles coming from the economics discipline and those who are in the multidisciplinary business marketing field. The authors are not wedded to a particular approach, using a number of different approaches to analyse particular problems, according to the problem at hand.

Marketing is as much a management activity, as it is a procedural ‘selling' problem. The authors recognise this, stating that there is a "… need to understand the management decisions facing their customers' customers, down to the final consumer." In particular, the different management issues facing the marketing of commodities versus branded products is well appreciated, and dealt with separately.

The book is reasonably well organised, with the useful attributes found in other introductory texts. Learning objectives, additional references and review questions are specified in each chapter, along with highlighted examples. A pleasing innovation is the introduction of ‘think breaks', which do not intrude on the material at hand, yet allow students to ponder issues and exercise their own judgement and beliefs. A comprehensive glossary of terms and index also adds to the utility one can gain from the book.

Overall, Food Marketing: An international text is an ideal text for those who want to learn about food markets in particular and about marketing in general, and should not be ignored by general practitioners either.

Brian Davidson - Dept. of Food Science and Agribusiness, University of Melbourne

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