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Research Proposal

Posted on Aug 2017

1.0 Background

            Over the years, food security has been an issue of great importance as far as Chinese health public is concerned.  In the 20th century, China faced three years of famine, and the impacts of the drought were devastating as millions of people ended up losing their lives due to starvation (Lu et al. 2015). Following the experience of famine, the issue of food price, supply and availability have been of great public health interest and the Chinese government put a priority of the food security concept in its national agenda. The biggest threat to food security in China is conversion of arable agricultural land into industries and urban centers (Ghose 2014). Companies engaging in food businesses also focus a lot on their food security issues due to the fact that this has a directly impact on their ability to generate higher returns and profits. The food security issues are of major concern to the food industry due to the impact that it has on the safety of food that is offered to customers (Lu et al 2015).

             In the past Chinese food companies have been in the limelight for supplying unsafe food products resulting to the death of many people. Therefore, food security in the Chinese food industry is an issue of great concern due to the effect it has on ability of companies to provide safe products and generate high returns (Guangxing and Tian 2012). The focus of most of the food companies in the past has been in the area of enhancing food supply policies to ensure they always have adequate food supply for their business activities. The previous studies focus mainly on general food security issues in China, but it is important to determine the specific measures put in place by Chinese food companies to control and manage food security problems.

1.1 Rationale for the Study

            Food security and safety are directly correlated. The ability of companies offering in the food industry to have a supply of sufficient food supply enhances their ability to remain profitable and satisfy the needs of target customers in an effective way. This means that Chinese Food Company needs to have strong measures in place in areas of supply management with an objective of ensuring sufficient supply of food products needed in order to prepare different types of final product products for the final consumers (McLaughlin and Kinzelbach 2015). An effective supply chain system in a food company ensures those products that supplied are safe for human consumption. Therefore, the rationale for undertaking this study is to understand ways in which Chinese food companies are managing and controlling food security issues with an aim of enhancing food safety and profitability.

1.2 Research Objectives and Questions

            The main objective of this study will be to determine ways in which Chinese food companies manages and control food security issues. The research questions that will guide the research process are as follows;

(i)                  What are the food securities and safety issues that Chinese food companies are faced with in their day to day operations?

(ii)                What are the measures that have been put in place by the Chinese food companies in controlling and managing food security issues?

1.4 Significance of the Study

            This study is of great importance when it comes to management of food related business in China and around the world. The biggest challenge that many food companies faces is lack of adequate food materials supplies and this impact negatively on their ability to fully satisfy the needs of target customers. In addition, food security issues create safety challenges that impact negatively on the image and reputation of a company. Hence, the findings of the study will provide information on some of the strategies that food companies in Chinese and various parts of the globe can employ with an objective enhancing food security and safety. The findings of the study will also help in enhancing the profitability of food companies by ensuring they employ the right food supply management practices in the future as part of enhancing their respective food security.

1.4 Limitations of the Study

            There are various limitations associated with this research on ways in which Chinese food companies control and manages food security issues. One of the limitations is resources available to complete the research, especially financial resources making it difficult to collect large sample of data with an aim of ensuring the reliability and validity of the study findings. The second limitation is associated with the study sample, whereby, it is small in size and this will make the findings of the study less reliable.

2.0 Literature Review

2.1 Factors that Affect Food Supply in China

            According to Lu et al (2015) there are several factors that impacts on supply of food in the Chinese economy. One of the major factors is related to land utilization. Lu et al (2015) notes that the majority of land arable land in China has been converted into urban and industrial centers and this pose a threat to supply of food to the ever growing population. Li Xin and Yuan (2009) point out that for purposes of addressing food productivity in a reduced a situation where arable land has reduced due to other human activities, such as urbanization and industrialization, there is need of making use of modern technology in agricultural activities so as to increase farming yields. Therefore, the ability of using arable agricultural land effectively is a major factor that determines the amount of food supply available in the market (Lu et al 2015).

            Lu et al (2015) further indicates that availability of water is a major factor that influences the availability of food supply in China. The grain production in China is mainly through irrigation as 75% of it is produced through irrigation agriculture (Lu et al, 2015). Therefore, availability of water for irrigation at a particular period determines the amount of grain production in the country. However, climate change is a major threat to food security in China as it affects the level of water available for purposes of carrying out irrigation activities (Ghose 2014). Moreover, soil determines food productivity in Chinese market (Lu et al 2015). Soil fertility and type determines the ability of producing various types of food products. Consequently, when soil fertility is low and cannot support production of certain food products, the supply of the same in the market tends to be very low (McLaughlin and Kinzelbach 2015).

            Finally, shift in diet in the last five decades is also playing a major role in determination of the supply of food in the Chinese economy (Song et al 2017). Lu et al (2015) reveals that most of the Chinese are moving from taking traditional foods to consuming a lot of animal related products. As result, the diet consumption shift on the nature of food supply in the Chinese economy.

3.2 Challenges of Food Security in the Food Industry

            According to Qingjuan and Huiqiu (2011) food resource logistics is a major challenge that threatens food security within the Chinese market. Food logistic is a critical component when it comes to food supply chain management, as it focuses on issues such as food packaging, processing, packaging, storage, handling and distribution. There are certain areas that in China which is a key to ensuring adequate supply of food raw materials need by companies that are underdeveloped and this threaten the ability of companies to have sufficient food supply in all areas at all times (Ghose 2014).

            Additionally, Lu et al (2015) reveals that issue of food safety is a challenge when it comes to ensuring that there is food security in companies that deal with food products. Most of the food products are produced using certain herbicides and pesticides that are dangerous for human consumption. Therefore, ensuring that one is supplied with the safe food and at the same time enhancing adequate food supply is a challenge (Lu et al 2015). Finally, ensuring that the supplied food products have the appropriate nutrition is a food security challenge that many companies face (Johnston, Fanzo and Cogill 2014).

3.3 Enhancing Food Security

            According to Qingjuan and Huiqiu (2011) food security can be assured in the food industry through employing the right supply strategies. One of the strategies effectively being used by food companies is that of entering into contract with farmers to supply food products within a certain period of time. This help in enhancing food security at all times. Also, the issue of setting quality and health standards that should be met when supplying a company with food products is a measure that helps in enhancing the food safety within a company involved in the food business (Lu et al 2015).

4.0 Methodology

            This research will be qualitative in nature. Hence, various qualitative research methods will be employed in the data collection and analysis process so as to understand means through which Chinese food companies control and manage food security problems. Qualitative study is concerned with the participants provide detailed account of their attitude, experiences concerning a particular issue of a research or problem (Creswell 2013).

4.1 Research Design

            The research design that will be employed in this study will be descriptive design. According to Creswell (2012) descriptive research design is where the participants provide accurate information depicting their experience concerning the subject of the study. Given that qualitative study is being undertaken descriptive study design fits well within this research. Thus, the design employed will help in ensuring that accurate data is collected describing some of the strategies employed by food companies in China in controlling and managing food security challenges.

4.2 Sample Size and Sampling Method

            A sample of 20 participants will be selected for this research. The study target population will be senior managers of Chinese food companies. The managers are in a better position to explain some of the strategic measures employed by their respective companies in ensuring there they address various food security challenges faced during the course of doing business.

            On the other hand, the purposive sampling technique will be employed in the study. The purposive sampling involves selecting a set of participants with certain characteristics (Merriam and Tisdell 2015). The nature of participants expected to take part in this study is those who work in the food companies in China and hold senior management positions. Therefore, random or probabilistic sampling approaches cannot fit in this study.

4.3 Data Collection Method

            The data collection approach that will be used in this study is telephone related interview. The interview approach is where a participant is asked certain question and provides answers to them (Creswell 2012). The interview as data collection approach has been chosen for thus study as it is flexible in nature allowing for the participant or researcher to make certain clarification during the question and answer session, which not possible using questionnaire approach. The main disadvantage associated with this approach is that is time consuming and expensive to implement when compared to questionnaire approach (Maxwell 2012).

4. 4 Data Analysis

            Descriptive data analysis techniques will be employed in the case of this research. Tables will be used to summarize the study findings. On the other hand, descriptions will be used with an objective of explaining the strategies that are employed by Chinese companies in managing and controlling food security challenges as well as their effectiveness.

4.5 Ethical Issues

            In this study various ethical issues will be experienced. One of the issues is associated with research integrity and honesty. For purposes of ensuring integrity and honesty is maintained in the study, the data will be presented the way is collected from the field or secondary sources without any form of manipulation (Creswell 2013). Informed consent will also be observed, where the participants will be required to participate in the study after understanding the purpose and their rights. Lastly, the issue of copyright will be observed by ensuring all information obtained from secondary sources will be properly cited.