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PM in the food
Performance measurement in the supply chain
food supply chain: a balanced
scorecard approach
Barbara Bigliardi and Eleonora Bottani
Department of Industrial Engineering University of Parma, Parma, Italy

Purpose The primary objective of this paper is to develop a balanced scorecard (BSC) model that is
designed and delimited for performance measurement in the food supply chain.
Design/methodology/approach The research methodology is a combination of literature
analysis, Delphi technique and case study-based research. Starting from the literature concerning
performance measurement and metrics, the food industry and the BSC model, the relevant financial
and non-financial indicators, suitable to be used for companies belonging to the food industry, were
first identified. Indicators were submitted to a panel of experts, which operated following the Delphi
technique, to gather possible suggestions or amendments. In its final form, the resulting BSC model
was tested on two companies operating in the food industry, for a final validation.
Findings Results of the case studies show that the companies examined have a similar view for
three of the four perspectives of the BSC, which can be thus considered as validated. Conversely, some
diverging results were observed concerning the learning and growth perspective.
Research limitations/implications By focusing on the specific context of the food supply chain,
this study completes previous works, which proposed a generic BSC model for supply chain
management. On the other hand, the fact that a specific industry field was examined could be seen as a
limitation of the work as the results presented are not suitable to be generalized or extended to other
contexts, although some extrapolations can be made.
Originality/value The paper provides a structured performance measurement system tailored for
the food supply chain. The BSC model developed could serve as a reference for the food industry, to
establish applicable performance appraisal indicators, and it is believed that both researchers and
practitioners would benefit from the tool developed.
Keywords Balanced scorecard, Supply chain management, Performance management, Food industry
Paper type Research paper

1. Introduction
Supply chain management (SCM) describes the discipline of optimising the delivery of
goods, services and related information from supplier to customer. It is concerned with
the effectiveness of dealing with final customers demand by the parties engaged in the
provision of the product as a whole (Cooper et al., 1997).
A supply chain consists of different levels, namely supplier, manufacturer,
distributor, and consumer, and it is a network of companies which influence each other
and affect one anothers performance. Hence, an important issue in SCM is the
development of integrated performance measurement systems (PMS). PMS serve
different functions in supply chain and operations management. These are formal
devices to control, formulate and communicate the companys strategy, and, as such, Facilities
Vol. 28 No. 5/6, 2010
they primarily serve higher-level managers. But PMS can also support operational pp. 249-260
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
managers, to motivate and enable them to improve operations. A performance 0263-2772
measurement framework assists in the process of performance measures building, by DOI 10.1108/02632771011031493
F clarifying measurement boundaries, specifying performance measurement dimensions
or views and may also provide initial intuitions into relationships among the
28,5/6 dimensions (Rouse and Putterill, 2003; Chan, 2003).
On the basis of the above considerations, this study aims at developing a PMS,
based on the well-known balanced scorecard (BSC) framework, suitable to be
implemented in the food supply chain. The reason for choosing this context is that the
250 supply chain of food products has received a great deal of attention in the last decade,
due to issues related to public health. It has become apparent that in the near future the
design and operation of food supply chains will be subject to more stringent
regulations and closer monitoring, in particular those for products destined for human
consumption. This implies that the traditional supply chain practices and the
corresponding performance measurement should be subject to revision and change
(Ahumada and Villalobos, 2009). As a further reason, the local industry of Parma
region (where our study was based) mainly encompasses companies directly operating
in the food industry, or related to this field, and offering a wide variety of products both
in the areas of first- and second-stage processing and all featuring a noteworthy
specialization in production techniques and high-quality finished products. Not by
accident the province of Parma is known as Italys Food Valley. As an indication of
the importance, it should be pointed out that the food industry represents the 35 per
cent of the total of industrial sectors, reaching a turnover of e6,500 million out of a total
of e19,200 million (Unione Parmense degli Industriali, 2007). Taken overall, food
manufacturing also has a significant impact on the overall Italian production. The
Parma Alimentare consortium is active in promoting this sector both within Italy
and abroad, because of the significant number of well-known typical and
designation of origin products. This sector has grown in recent years thanks to
major investments in research and new technologies and careful attention to safety and
quality, two fundamental aspects to food production in the province. Pertinent to this
context is the establishment in Parma of the European Food Safety Authority, the
major European agency that deals with identifying and evaluating potential risks
within the food chain, from production to sale to the consumer.

2. Literature analysis
Over the years, many methods and techniques have been suggested to evaluate the
performance of a firm in general; well-known financial measures such as return on
investment (ROI), internal rate of return, net present value and payback period have
been the most studied in literature. At present, research in the field of supply chain
performance measurement is receiving increasing attention by the scientific
community, due to the need of developing integrated PMS, taking into account all
the partners (i.e. the immediate supply network as well as the total supply network)
with which a company interacts. Comprehensive studies describing both quantitative
and qualitative performance metrics for SCM are provided by Chan (2003),
Gunasekaran et al. (2004) and Bhagwat and Sharma (2007). Based on those recent
works, a summary of the performance indicators suitable to be used for SCM is
presented in Table I.
Unfortunately, several authors agree that currently available PMSs suffer from two
main limitations. First, often performance measurement follows financial accounting
principles without any forward-looking perspective and measurement is restricted to
directly measurable or accountable indicators (Horvath, 1996). Such systems are not fully
PM in the food
Supply chain process Performance measures
supply chain
Plan Order entry method (Gunasekaran et al., 2004)
Order lead-time (Christopher, 1992)
Customer order path
Source Supplier selection

Buyer-supplier relationship
Product cost, quality, speed of delivery, delivery reliability, flexibility
(Mapes et al., 1997; Slack et al., 1995)
Range of product and services (Mapes et al., 1997);
Capacity utilization (Slack et al., 1995)
Effectiveness of scheduling techniques (Little et al., 1995
Delivery Delivery performance (Stewart, 1995)
Number of faultless notes invoiced; flexibility of delivery systems to
meet particular customer needs (Novich, 1990)
Total distribution cost (Thomas and Griffin, 1996)
Customer Product development cycle time; machine/toolset up time; economies
of scope (Christopher, 1992)
Number of inventory turns; customer query time
Post transaction measures of customer service
Overall chain Total supply chain costs (Cavinato, 1992)
Total cash flow time
ROI Table I.
Total cost of inventory (Stewart, 1995; Christopher, 1992; Slack et al., A list of performance
1995; Lee and Billington, 1992; Levy, 1997) measurement for supply
Information processing cost (Stewart, 1995) chain management

suitable to be implemented in modern SCM applications, where a performance

measurement system has to take into account a wider range of controlling targets
(Bhagwat and Sharma, 2007). Specifically, complex supply chains seek to provide
customers with a wide range of benefits, including intangible ones. Furthermore, most of
these systems lack of system thinking, in which a supply chain must be viewed as a whole
entity and the measurement system should span the entire supply chain (Chan, 2003).
The BSC first appeared in the results of a research developed in 1990 by Kaplan and
Norton (1992), involving many companies, moved by the growing dissatisfaction with
traditional financial measures as a sole (or main) measure for companys performance.
The BSC is a tool for aligning business activities to the vision and strategy of the
organization, improving internal and external communications, and monitoring
organization performance against strategic goals. It includes various performance
indicators, namely customer perspective, internal-business processes, learning and
growth and financials (Kaplan and Norton, 1993, 1996, 2001a, b). Given its structure,
the BSC can be appropriate to be implemented as a tool for measuring and evaluating
supply chain performance.
The BSC distinguishes four different perspectives of performance measures:
(1) Customer. Recent management philosophy has shown an increasing realization
of the importance of customer focus and customer satisfaction in any business.
These are leading indicators: if customers are not satisfied, they will eventually
find other suppliers that will meet their needs. Poor performance from this
perspective is thus a leading indicator of future decline, even though the current
F financial picture may look good. In developing metrics for satisfaction,
customers should be analysed in terms of kinds of customers and kinds of
28,5/6 processes for which we are providing a product or service to those customer
(2) Internal processes. This perspective refers to internal business processes, and
aims at satisfying shareholders and customers by excelling at some business
252 processes. Metrics based on this perspective allow the managers to know how
well their business is running, and whether its products/services conform to
customer requirements.
(3) Learning and growth. Its main objective is to determine the infrastructure that
allows reaching the objectives of the other three perspectives, in order to create
a long-term growth of the company. This perspective includes employee
training and corporate cultural attitudes related to both individual and
corporate self-improvement.
(4) Financial. This perspective reflects the traditional need for financial data.
Timely and accurate funding data will always be a priority, and managers will
do whatever necessary to provide it. In fact, often there is more than enough
handling and processing of financial data. With the implementation of a
corporate database, it is hoped that more of the processing can be centralized
and automated. But the point is that the emphasis on financials leads to the
unbalanced situation with regard to other perspectives. Hence, additional
financial-related data, such as risk assessment and cost-benefit data, are often
included in this category.
Figure 1 shows a scheme of the BSC model originally proposed by Kaplan and Norton
The BSC has been widely investigated in literature, but little attention has been paid
by researchers to its adoption in the food industry: among these, it is possible to cite
Cardemil-Katuranic and Shadbolt (2006), which adopted a case study methodology to
research how an agricultural (kiwifruit) co-operative in New Zealand could implement
a Balanced Scorecard. However, to our knowledge, no specific studies address the
development of a BSC model for the food supply chain. Moreover, in the context of
SCM, there are only few applications of BSC for performance measurement. Among
these, Brewer and Sfeh (2000) introduced a modified version of the BSC that can be
used for measuring the performance of a supply chain, and provided examples of
possible measures. Bullinger et al. (2002) designed an adapted supply chain
performance analysis approach based on the BSC model. Their study aims at
supporting logistics organizations in deriving specific opportunities from the
potentials of the SCM. A similar study has been performed by Park et al. (2005).
More recently, Bhagwat and Sharma (2007) developed a BSC for SCM, that measures
and evaluates day-to-day business operations following four perspectives: finance,
customer, internal business process, and learning and growth. In this paper, we start
from the work by Bhagwat and Sharma (2007) to develop a BSC framework for
performance measurement, tailored for the food supply chain.

3. The research methodology

The research methodology followed in this study consists of three steps. First, a
detailed literature analysis, concerning SCM, performance measurement and food
PM in the food
supply chain


Figure 1.
The balanced scorecard

supply chains was performed. The aim of the literature review was to analyse the
currently available PMS for supply chains, as well as to punctually examine specific
issues of the food supply chains, to identify key performance indicators (KPIs) to be
used in the industry investigated. In particular, the four dimensions of the BSC
proposed by Bhagwat and Sharma (2007) has been the starting point of our study.
As a result of this step, a set of KPIs suitable to be adopted in the context of food
companies emerged. Such indicators were used as a guideline during the second phase
of the research, where they were examined and validated by an appropriate panel of
experts, which operated according to the Delphi technique (Linstone and Turoff, 1975).
The Delphi technique is a systematic, interactive forecasting method, which allows
obtaining forecasts from an independent panel of experts, over two or more rounds.
Normally, an administrator provides an anonymous summary of the experts forecasts
and their reasons for them after each round. The process stops when experts forecasts
change slightly between rounds, and final round forecasts are combined by averaging
(Rowe and Wright, 1999). We adopted the Delphi technique with the aim of obtaining a
high degree of consensus on the KPIs to be included in our model.
An appropriate multidisciplinary panel of about 20 experts was set up to this
purpose. The panel encompassed few academics from the Industrial Engineering
Department of the University of Parma, chosen among people whose research studies
were mainly focused on SCM, performance measurement and food industry issues.
F Moreover, 15 managers from a major Italian company operating in the food industry
were included in the panel. Panel members were selected among people reporting
28,5/6 directly to the firms top management and operating in SCM, logistics, procurement,
production, information technology, planning and control and finance.
KPIs resulting from the literature were structured into an appropriate
questionnaire, submitted to the panel members. Then, a two-round Delphi was
254 carried out to refine the proposed indicators. In the first round, the panel members were
asked to express their agreement with regard to the suitability of each KPI to be
adopted in the food industry. Moreover, panellists could indicate the need for further
specifications of KPIs (if required), as well as the main strengths and weaknesses of
each indicator identified. The results of the first round of Delphi led to several
modifications to the list of KPIs originally proposed. Hence, a second questionnaire
was organized, incorporating additional indicators proposed by the panellists and
removing non-relevant ones, and submitted to the panel members during the second
round of Delphi. Again, panellists were asked to refine each indicator emerged in the
first round, as well as to identify additional indicators suitable to be implemented in the
food industry. A general agreement was reached at the end of the second round. Then,
the panel members were involved in a final roundtable discussion, to confirm the
agreements on the results of the second questionnaire.
The final result of the Delphi technique is a BSC model for performance
measurement in the food supply chain. During the third step of the research, the BSC
model was tested on two companies, operating in the food industry, along with as
many exploratory case studies (Yin, 1984). The case studies had the primary aim of
validating the model developed, by providing empirical evidence of theoretical
assumptions emerged during the Delphi rounds (Creswell, 1994). They were carried
out with a series of semi-structured interviews, with the top management operating in
the in SCM business functions of each company, over a three-week period during April
and June 2009. Interviews lasted between one and two hours, and were taped and
transcribed. A primary research question was formulated to explore the structure and
characteristics of the company, in terms of the way each company measures its
performance (i.e. whether the company adopted a specific performance measurement
system or not). Then, we proposed the BSC model obtained from the previous steps, in
order to validate its contents by means of a ranking method. Specifically, we asked the
companys managers to rate the indicators proposed in the model on a six-point scale
(where 1 not important at all and 6 extremely important), as well as to
prioritise each perspective by assigning a score ranging from 0 to 10.

4. The case studies

4.1 Companies description
Company 1 (the names of both companies are omitted in the paper, due to
confidentiality) was founded in 1966 in Parma, and is a consortium of 110 associated
enterprises, working in the dairy, cheese and meat sectors. The dairy and cheese fields,
in particular, represent the primary markets of the company. In such contexts, the
company has gained a relevant market share, as a producer of top quality milk and
excellent national cheeses, with protected designation of origin. The company is one of
the first Italian producers of butter, as well as in leading position as manufacturer and
distributor of local cheeses in Italy and Europe. Company 1 also operates as a
manufacturer of pork meat products; in this sector, it slaughters 15 per cent of the total
number of animals processed in northern Italy and intended for the local meat market. PM in the food
The companys main customers include large companies operating in food and fast
moving consumer goods retailing. In 2008, the company counts about 1,030 employees,
supply chain
distributed on 17 production sites located in Italy. Additional relevant figures of the
company for 2008 are an aggregate turnover of about e620 million, 12 per cent of which
generated by exportations in foreign countries.
Company 2 was established in 1866 and at the beginning operated in Switzerland, 255
as a milk producer. Since the first years, the company has expanded its activity in other
countries, namely US, UK, Spain, Germany and Italy. Over the last two decades, the
company experiences a period of strong growth, that translates into the acquisition of
new enterprises, operating as manufacturers of ice cream, beverages, dietary foods,
and, more recently, health and beauty care products. The company currently has
manufacturing sites in more than 80 countries, and covers a leading position in the
food industry in the US market. In Italy, Company 2 has reached e1,500 million annual
turnover in 2008, and is considered as one of the most important companies operating
in the food industry. The company manufactures more than 3,900 food products, which
are commercialised under 70 well-known brands. Company 2 also involves about 3,300
employees, most of whom operate in the companys headquarter in northern Italy. For
the purpose of this study, we have considered a subsidiary of Company 2, established
in Parma in 1904 and specialised in the manufacturing of chocolate, bakery, desserts
and cakes.

4.2 Balanced scorecard model for Company 1 and Company 2

During the case studies, the indicators included in the general model of BSC were
ranked on the basis of the opinion of executives and managers collected during the
interviews. Subsequent reflections on these meetings provided a useful form of content
and context analysis and was helpful in linking specific scorecard issues with remarks
made by managers.
For Company 1, the financial and customer perspectives are perceived to be the
most important ones, followed by internal processes and learning and growth
perspectives. As for the financial perspective, managers judged the indicators
Information carrying cost and Supplier cost saving activities as the most
important, followed by Variations against budget and Cost per operation hour. The
typical financial indicator ROI was perceived to be less important, while the Net profit
vs productivity ratio turned out to be not important at all. As far as the customer
perspective is concerned, the indicators perceived as most relevant are Customer
query time, Order lead time, Distribution lead time, Distribution performance,
Delivery reliability, Effectiveness of Distribution Planning Schedule, and Quality
of delivered goods. The remaining indicators assumed a rank variable from 4 to 5, and
were then considered in the final BSC model. As far as the internal processes
perspective is concerned, Purchase order cycle time, Effectiveness of Master
Production Schedule, Supplier rejection rate, Total inventory cost, and Frequency
of delivery are perceived as the most important indicators. On the contrary, Supplier
lead times against industry norms and Product development cycle time assumed
low importance; consequently, these indicators were excluded from the final BSC
model. Finally, the most important indicators belonging to the learning and growth
perspective are all related to the collaboration with supply chain players, that is
Supplier assistance in solving technical problems, Supplier ability to respond to
quality problems and Buyer-supplier collaboration in problem solving. Order entry
F methods and Level of information sharing are, on the contrary, perceived as the less
important indicators. As such, they were not included in the final model. On the basis
28,5/6 of the considerations described above, the BSC model depicted in Figure 2 was derived.
As far as Company 2 is concerned, its perspectives and indicators evaluation is
quite similar to the one from Company 1, providing validation of most of the KPIs
proposed. Customer perspective is perceived to be the most important one, at the same
256 level of the internal processes perspective. As regards to the indicators, managers
suggested that Supplier cost saving activities is the most important one when
considering the financial perspective, followed by Variations against budget and
ROI. Also for Company 2, the Net profit vs. productivity ratio resulted to be not
important at all. As far as the customer perspective is concerned, all the indicators
proposed were perceived as important, assuming a rank variable from 5 to 6, and were
then considered in the final BSC model. As far as the internal processes perspective is
concerned, Accuracy of forecasting techniques, Purchase order cycle time,
Planned process cycle time, and Total inventory cost are perceived as the most
important indicators; conversely, Total cash flow time and Supplier rejection rate
assumed a low importance, and were thus excluded from the final BSC model. Finally,
we obtained contrasting opinion with regard to the learning and growth perspective. In
fact, for Company 2, the most important indicators are Order entry methods and
Level of information sharing, that turned out to be of scarce importance for Company
1. Conversely, Suppliers procedures of order collection and Suppliers involvement
in companys activities were perceived as the less important indicators, together with
Supplier assistance in solving technical problems. The BSC model for Company 2 is
schematically depicted in Figure 3.

5. Conclusions
The main result of the research is the development of a set of KPIs embodied into a
BSC-based tool for performance measurement in the context of a food supply chain.
The model developed has been validated by both a panel of experts operating in the
food industry, and by means of two case studies, referring to as many food companies.
As a result of the case studies, it emerged that the two companies interviewed
perceived the BSC as composed by the four perspectives, those suggested by Kaplan
and Norton, with a number of measures that vary from 2 to 10. Moreover, outcomes of
the case studies provide validation of most of the KPIs proposed for the BSC model,
which can be thus considered as suitable for use as a tool for performance
measurement in the food supply chain. The learning and growth perspective
represents an exception in this regard, as some diverging results were observed
between the two companies. This is a current limitation of the study, and suggests the
need of better investigating this perspective in future research activities.
We recognize that ranking is not new in the food industry: many retailers, for
example, use this approach in their assurance schemes, such as Leaf UK that use a
score sheet in their audit for Leaf Marque, or the Global Good Agricultural Practice
(formally known as EurepGAP) that utilises a scoring method as compliance criteria
for farm assurance (Globalgap, 2009; Leaf UK, 2009). An additional limitation refers to
the research methodology adopted, which grounds on a limited sample of case studies.
Yin (1984) justifies the use of a single case study where a rare or unique event is
explored, to probe the how and why questions in greater detail. Furthermore, the
application of data from just one particular industry clearly reduces the number of
PM in the food
supply chain


Figure 2.
The balanced scorecard
model for Company 1


Figure 3.
The balanced scorecard
model for Company 2
observations, but has the advantage that firms are relatively homogeneous (Kraft, PM in the food
Finally, the case studies were exploited in this paper to validate the BSC model
supply chain
developed, but not to investigate its implementation in real cases. A further task is thus
to apply the resulting model on a wide sample of companies, to test its suitability of
adoption for food companies.
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