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Analysis of Food Hub Commerce and Participation using Agent-Based Modeling: Integrating Financial and Social Drivers
Human Factors
  • Caroline C. Krejci, Iowa State University
  • Richard Stone, Iowa State University
  • Michael Dorneich, Iowa State University
  • Stephen B Gilbert, Iowa State University
Document Type
Publication Version
Accepted Manuscript
Publication Date
Objective: Factors influencing long-term viability of an intermediated regional food supply network (food hub) were modeled using agent-based modeling techniques informed by interview data gathered from food hub participants. Background: Previous analyses of food hub dynamics focused primarily on financial drivers rather than social factors and have not used mathematical models. Method: Based on qualitative and quantitative data gathered from 22 customers and 11 vendors at a midwestern food hub, an agent-based model (ABM) was created with distinct consumer personas characterizing the range of consumer priorities. A comparison study determined if the ABM behaved differently than a model based on traditional economic assumptions. Further simulation studies assessed the effect of changes in parameters, such as producer reliability and the consumer profiles, on long-term food hub sustainability. Results: The persona-based ABM model produced different and more resilient results than the more traditional way of modeling consumers. Reduced producer reliability significantly reduced trade; in some instances, a modest reduction in reliability threatened the sustainability of the system. Finally, a modest increase in price-driven consumers at the outset of the simulation quickly resulted in those consumers becoming a majority of the overall customer base. Conclusion: Results suggest that social factors, such as desire to support the community, can be more important than financial factors. Application: An ABM of food hub dynamics, based on human factors data gathered from the field, can be a useful tool for policy decisions. Similar approaches can be used for modeling customer dynamics with other sustainable organizations.

This is a manuscript of an article from Human Factors 58 (2016): 58, doi: 10.1177/0018720815621173. Posted with permission.

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Human Factors & Ergonomics Society
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Citation Information
Caroline C. Krejci, Richard Stone, Michael Dorneich and Stephen B Gilbert. "Analysis of Food Hub Commerce and Participation using Agent-Based Modeling: Integrating Financial and Social Drivers" Human Factors Vol. 58 Iss. 1 (2016) p. 58 - 79
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