BEC-31806 Risk Management in Food Supply Chains


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Group work8
Independent study0
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. MCM Mourits
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. MCM Mourits
dr. ir. MPM Meuwissen
dr. ir. Y de Mey
Examiner(s)dr. ir. MCM Mourits

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

Basic knowledge on business economics and mathematics.
Also some technical background, e.g. food technology, plant science or animal science, will make the topics of this course easier to understand.


Various risks, such as production risk from weather, pests, diseases or contaminations, institutional risk, human risk, price and market risks are inescapable factors in food supply chains. These risks have to be managed to avoid undesired consequences for individual firms in food supply chains and for society and the economy at large. As the nature and consequences of risk evolve over time, risk management reflects a continuous adaptive process. For any organization within a food supply chain - whether a large corporation, a government institution, or a family farm - this process needs to be integrated into their decision making procedures to rationalize choice in an uncertain world.
This course provides a theoretical basis as well as practical experience on how risk needs to be accounted for within the decision making process. By means of lectures students will become familiar with the concept of rational choice and the theoretical principles of probability and risk preferences as well as methods to include risk within evaluations of decision alternatives. Students will apply these concepts and techniques by constructing their own decision support models during computer practicals. By various exercises, students will explore how the use of models improves the decision making process by structuring the decision problem, incorporating subjective probabilities as a way to portray risk, measuring outcomes in a way consistent with attitudes towards risk and understanding the value of information. During a concluding case study, students will act as assessors of risks from the perspective of the various stakeholders within a food supply chain (e.g. farmers, wholesalers, processors, distributors, retailers). Given a specified decision problem (viz. how to control a bacterial contamination within the chain), students will have to evaluate alternative options on behalf of the concerned stakeholders.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- understand the concept of rational choice;
- select appropriate techniques to analyse decisions under risk;
- understand chain specific risk sources;
- understand the presented risk management techniques;
- select the appropriate risk management technique given a certain source of risk;
- analyse risky decision problems with the use of decision trees and stochastic modelling;
- discuss the vulnerability of food supply chains;
- identify the information required to perform rational evaluations of decision alternatives within the food supply chain.


The course includes lectures, computer practicals and case studies in the form of group assignments. In two of the lectures, guest speakers (from government and/or industry) will be invited to present their view and experiences with respect to risks in food supply chains. During the case assignments students will - given a risky decision problem - evaluate alternative options from the perspective of the various stakeholders. Active participation in the case studies is compulsory.


Final grading is based on an individual written exam (90%) and on the individual contribution during the discussion sessions on the PGO assignments (10%). Participation in the PGO assignments is compulsory.


Text book and scientific papers (reader).

Compulsory for: MFSFood SafetyMScC: Supply Chain Safety4WD