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Master in

Agro-food marketing

Next edition: 1st part: 25 September 2017 – 1 June 2018 / 2nd part: September 2018 – June 2019

Master in

Agro-food marketing

General information on the Unit

Contact hours: 78 (52 lectures, 26 practicals)
Personal work hours: 122
Character: Compulsory
Venue: Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza
-  Developed in the first academic year of the Master, during the first semester.
-  The assessment of this Unit consists of a continuous evaluation of the practical activities and a written exam during the first semester.
Requisites and permanence
There are no previous requisites.
Learning methods
Combination of theoretical and practical sessions consisting of lectures, group work, computer work, collaborative learning and a technical visit.
Lecturers may deliver the topics in Spanish, English or French. In the latter two cases, simultaneous interpretation into Spanish is provided. The documents supplied by the lecturers may also be written in Spanish, English or French.


Presentation of the Unit and context within the syllabus

The Unit includes two main topics: the agro-food system and its institutions, and Agro-food policy.
Concerning the first topic, the role of agro-food chains within agro-food systems are analyzed. The main components are exposed and issues such as consumer responses, transparency and value chain are dealt with more detail. A good number of issues applied to developed as well as developing countries are provided. The main elements characterizing agro-food market globalization are addressed. Within this framework the role of agro-food marketing components are analysed, both for large firms and for small firms that are beginning to go international in their activities. Strategies deserve special attention as well as the global consumption trends, distribution and agro industrial processing. The characteristics and roles of major institutions that have become an important part of the agricultural marketing systems are analyzed. The major institutions include private sector firms of various sizes and types, cooperatives, futures markets as well as government agencies that provide services, rules or facilities. An exam of institutional settings is made to facilitate the analysis of actual markets in order to identify potential opportunities for business firms, farmers, farm organizations and government agencies. The importance of institutions in the agro-food market dynamics of developing countries is exposed, as well as how their absence or their failures influence these dynamics. Furthermore, the important role of professional and inter-professional associations and their impact on developing countries is presented. Case studies are offered covering cooperatives, consumer associations and firm’s exporting strategies.
Concerning the second topic, a vision of policies related with agricultural products, and in particular the Common Agriculture Policy, is offered. Agricultural developments of other parts of the world are also shown, particularly the case of developed countries. Aspects that may be more relevant in the future are also presented. Current trends in food policy are then presented. A large number of issues that influence the evolution of food safety and its regulation are discussed, as well as sanitary and phytosanitary measures of agro-food products trade. Furthermore, the constant increase in consumer demand for quality assurance is also addressed. Finally, methods are presented to value the benefits of incorporating quality assurance processes in firms.



Specific competences

  • SC4 Using current information and communication systems to improve marketing strategies.
  • SC5 Identifying public and private institutions involved in agro-food markets and assessing the existing agro-food policies and possible derived incentives for the marketing of agro-food products.
  • SC6 Integrating food safety, labelling and product quality in marketing plans, considering the regulations established by agro-food policies at international and national levels.

General competences

  • ­GC1 Integrating scientific and technical knowledge and applying them discerningly.
  • GC2 Performing scientific and/or technical information searches and processing them selectively.
  • ­GC3 Analyzing results or strategies and elaborating conclusions which contribute to clarify the problems and to find possible solutions.
  • GC4 Making decisions and generating new ideas and knowledge in complex systems.
  • GC5 Learning and working autonomously, responding to unforeseen situations and re-aiming a strategy if necessary.
  • GC6 Team-working and promoting exchange and collaboration attitudes with other students, researchers and professionals.
  • GC7 Communicating reasoning and conclusions both to a general audience and to a specialized public.
  • GC8 Writing presentations and synthesis, preparing and presenting oral communications, and defending them in public.


Learning outcomes

The student, at the end of this Unit:

  • Understands the role that agro-food chains play nowadays in agriculture systems, is able to measure the value change components and is aware of the practical differences among different sorts of agro-food chains.
  • Analyses the elements characterizing market globalization, its impacts in agro-food marketing and the strategies that different marketing agents may adopt to increase their opportunities in this context of globalization.
  • Is familiar with the public and private institutions involved in agro-food markets, regulations and public directives, and different types of organizations affecting agro-food marketing in order to be able to identify market opportunities.
  • Approaches the situations and experiences of agro-food markets in developing countries by means of the analysis of their dynamics, problems and particularities regarding developed countries, with special focus on the interest of professional and inter-professional associations.
  • Is aware of the existing agro-food policies in the world paying special attention to the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU, values the cost and benefits arising from their establishment, and knows how to take advantage of possible derived incentives for the marketing of agro-food products.
  • Analyses current trends in food safety, labelling, risk management and product quality, and understands the regulations established by agro-food policies at international and national level in this respect.



  • The agro-food system and its institutions
    • The agro-food system
      • Agro-food chains as main components of agro-food systems sustainability
      • Methods of analysis of the agro-food chain
      • Agro-food systems and chains in different countries
    • Market globalization
      • Globalization components in agro-food markets
      • Impacts of globalization on the agro-food system
      • Strategies of different agents within the context of globalization
    • Institutions in agricultural markets
      • Public and private institutions in agricultural markets
      • Market organization and agricultural associationism
      • Futures markets
    • Institutions in agricultural markets in developing countries
      • Different institutional approaches in developing countries
      • The role of professional and interprofessional associations in the agro-food system of developing countries
      • Case studies of developing countries
  • Agro-food policy
    • Agricultural policy
      • Agricultural policy mechanisms
      • Evolution of the CAP
      • Current issues of concern in agricultural policies
    • Food policy
      • Current trends in food policies
      • Food safety
      • Cost-benefit analysis of the implementation of food policies


Learning activities

Learning activity 1: Lectures combined with illustrative examples
ECTS: 6.0
Hours: 150
Percentage of contact: 35%

Learning activity 2: Work in groups
(A) All topics in the Unit
The objective of the practical is to apply the topics dealt with during the lectures of the whole Unit to a concrete context, identifying, characterizing and analysing market institutions and actors, market structures and agro-food market policies, regulations and strategies. Additionally, students carry out an information search and a selective processing of the information gathered.
Students work in 6 groups. Each group chooses a concrete product and country among these possibilities:
a.- Commodity - developed country
b.- Commodity - developing country
c.- Perishable product - developed country
d.- Perishable product - developing country
e.- Processed product - developed country
f.- Processed product - developing country
The questions that students have to consider are:
1.- Identify and characterize public institutions regulating agro-food production and market in the country concerned. Comment the role of informal institutions in the regulation, if it is the case.
2.- Analyse main regulations and public policies affecting the product/commodity in the national market as well as international markets.
3.- Analyse incentives and constraints generated by institutions and economic actors affecting the product/commodity in the national market as well as international markets.
4.- Identify and characterize outstanding private enterprises at different levels of the agro-food chain in the country dealing with the product/commodity marketing.
5.- Organization of the product/commodity value chain in the country and main economic actors concerned.
6.- Role of small producers in the marketing chain and possible strategies to incorporate them.
7.- Analyze how globalization is affecting the product concerned, e.g., in terms of trade volumes and values, key overseas markets (for exports) or competing suppliers (for imports), and the role of multinational companies in domestic or overseas marketing. Given what we have learned about changes in food consumption patterns, assess what the current structure implies for future market prospects for the product.
8.- Find the country safety standards for the product/commodity and compare them to international standards (e.g., Codex Alimentarius). Identify any significant scandals linked to food safety issues and their repercussions for the marketing of the product. Identify any consumer issues relating to changes in production technologies, diet and health or consumer demographics associated with the product.
Students will receive support from all lecturers in the Unit to ensure the advance of their work and to clarify their doubts. Each group has to prepare a written report to be delivered the following week after having finished the Unit. All groups will also present their results in class (20 minutes each), having a general discussion of 1 hour. This presentation and discussion is supervised by one of the lecturers in the Unit who acts as coordinator of the activity.
(B) Institutions in agricultural markets in developing countries
The objective of the practical is to illustrate institutional functioning of the downstream value chain and types of constraints faced by small businesses to access dynamic or modern markets in transition economies. The lecturer will present a case based on a commercial contract imposed by a big hypermarket on their suppliers. Students, guided by the lecturer, have to analyse in groups the repercussion of such a contract for small enterprises and producers. All groups discuss their conclusions with the lecturer.
ECTS: 1.1
Hours: 27 (A: 25, B: 2)
Percentage of contact: 63% (A: 60%, B: 100%)

Learning activity 3: Practical work with computers to enlarge students’ knowledge on how the futures market and the stock market work, providing a better understanding of trading strategies and portfolio management. Students work in pairs. Approximately one month before the course starts students receive information about the practical work and how to use the software. Until the course starts they become familiar with the program, understanding the game mechanics and trying some strategies. At the beginning of the course each portfolio is evaluated and the students receive tutoring to continue the game. The day before the end of the course students have to prepare a brief report on their results according to some specific questions.
ECTS: 0.5
Hours: 14
Percentage of contact: 14%

Learning activity 4: Cooperative learning, where, divided into groups, each student receives a scientific/technical publication on agricultural associations/cooperatives, every group having the same publications. Each student summarizes the content of the publication for the rest of the group in a limited pre-established time. Afterwards, a question period is established to ask questions between the groups on the publication contents in order to verify that all students have understood the same information.
ECTS: 0.2
Hours: 4
Percentage of contact: 50%

Learning activity 5: Technical visit to a large exporting fruit company, specialized in integrated production, covering from the production to the transformation, distribution and sale.
ECTS: 0.2
Hours: 5
Percentage of contact: 100%


Assessment methods

Assessment system 1: Written exam, composed of questions provided by the different lecturers of the Unit covering the lectures. The exam is made up of concrete questions requiring a short answer, being possible also multiple-choice tests. Short-answer questions are marked according to the technical and conceptual precision of the answer, and to the reasoning approach.
Weighting: 35% of the final score of the Unit (Agro-food systems: 7%, Market glob.: 7%, Institutions: 2.7%, Inst. developing count.: 4.3%, Agric. policy: 7%, Food policy: 7%)

Assessment system 2: Global assessment of the work in groups.
(A) The assessment is based on: the written report (to be assessed by all lecturers in the Unit), and the presentation and discussion (to be assessed by the lecturer coordinating the activity).
In the assessment of the reports, the relevance of the information gathered and the pertinence of the analysis as regards the questions posed will be considered. In the assessment of the presentation and debate, the clarity of the delivery, the adjustment to the assigned time and the pertinence of answers will be considered.
The score is the same for all group members (60% written report, 40% presentation and discussion).
(B) Assessment by the lecturer based on the analysis made by each group and their participation in the discussion.
The score is the same for all group members.
Weighting: 53% of the final score of the Unit (A: 50%, B: 3%)

Assessment system 3: Global assessment by the lecturer of the practical work with computers based on the report providing the results of the practical work and the answers to the questions. Understanding of the methodology, the validity of the results and the accuracy of their interpretation will be assessed.
The score is the same for the pair.
Weighting: 9% of the final score of the Unit

Assessment system 4: Global assessment by the lecturer of the collaborative learning based on the understanding of the methodology and contents dealt with.
The score is the same for all group members.
Weighting: 3% of the final score of the Unit

Assessment system 5: Direct assessment by the lecturer tutoring the technical visit. The marking is not numerical but a “pass” or “fail”. Active participation and compliance with previously established guidelines for process observation will be assessed.
Weighting: -



Luis Miguel ALBISU, CITA-GA, Zaragoza (Spain)
Sanjib BHUYAN, Rutgers Univ., New Jersey (United States)
David BLANDFORD, Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park (United States)
Julián BRIZ, Univ. Politécnica Madrid (Spain)
Rachid HAMIMAZ, IAV Hassan II, Rabat (Morocco)
Carmen HUBBARD, Newcastle Univ. (United Kingdom)