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International Food and Agribusiness Management Review Supply Chains for Emerging Renewable Polymers:
Analysis of Interactive Sectors and Complementary Assets
Thomas L. Sporledera Peter D. Goldsmithb, Jean Cordierc and Philippe Godind a Professor, Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics Department, The Ohio State University 2120 Fyffe Road. Columbus, Ohio, 43210-1066, U.S.A. b Associate, Professor, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois, 1301 West Gregory Drive, Urbana, Illinois, 61801, U.S.A. c Professor, Département Economie Rurale et Gestion, Agrocampus 65, rue de Saint Brieuc - CS 84215, 35042, Rennes, France d Managing Partner, PHG Conseil, 11 rue Vauquelin, Caen, Normandy, 14000, France
Abstract

Revitalized interest in biobased or renewable ingredients in manufacturing has emerged in recent
years due to rising real petroleum prices, concerns regarding environmental impacts of crude oil,
and national security issues related to petroleum resources. This research analyzes the
complexities of renewable supply chains. In particular, polymers manufactured from renewable
feedstocks will augment various industrial markets, such as plant material used as a renewable
ingredient in paint manufacture, partially substituting for crude oil derivative ingredients. The
analysis defines polymer industrial supply chains and estimates the market opportunity for
renewable polymers. A section of the analysis is devoted to complementary assets as a new
product development bridge to supply chain issues.

Keywords:
supply chains, renewables, economics of biobased industrial markets,
complementary assets
P. D. Goldsmith: pgoldsmi @illinois.edu J. Cordier: cordier@agrocampus-ouest.fr P. Godin: ph.m.godin@orange.fr  2011 International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA). All rights reserved Sporleder et al. / International Food and Agribusiness Management Review / Volume 14, Issue 2, 2011 Emerging Biobased Industrial Markets
For several decades, plastics derived from fossil fuels have grown at a faster rate than any other
group of bulk materials (Crank et al. 2005; Weizer 2006). Although the first plastics were
developed from polymers derived from renewable materials (Stevens 2002), petroleum-based
polymers are cheaper and consequently dominate industrial markets. Although most polymer
markets are expanding, growth in specific polymer products is expected to be quite variable in
the future, ranging from a negative 8.9% annually to an increase of 71% over the next several
years, Table 1.
Table 1. Estimated growth in the polymer industry by product, various authors
Product Growth
Reference
7.31% CAGR over 2006-2013 to reach 28 million by 2013 6.44% CAGR over 2006-2013 to reach 17 million by 2013 11.9% GAGR from 2005-2010 starting with 8 tonnes in 2005 Others (Lignin, soybean, water-soluble, polycaprolactone) 5.62% CAGR over 2006-2013 to reach 3 million by 2013 11.06% CAGR over 2006-2013 starting with 18 million pounds in 2006 18.7% CAGR over 2005-2010 starting with 9.6 tonnes in 2005 71% CAGR from 2005-2010 starting with 0.1 tonnes in 2005 18.4% CAGR from 2005-2010 starting with 3.6 tonnes in 2005 -7.7% decline in output in 2008 from 2007 Interest in biobased or renewable polymers has emerged in recent years due to rising real petroleum prices, concerns regarding environmental impacts from crude oil, and national security issues related to petroleum resources (Crank et al. 2005). With advances in technology, renewable polymers are increasingly competitive with petroleum-based polymers in cost and performance and may offer additional advantages. Specifically, renewable polymers are often biodegradable and not toxic to produce (Paster, Pellegrino, and Carole 2003). The economic prospects for promoting renewable polymers are great. The market size for biodegradable polymers generated from renewable natural sources, such as plant and animal biomass, is growing significantly (GIA 2006). With consumption of renewable polymers projected to increase over the next five years by 22 percent annually in the U.S. (Pira 2006), a strategic economic growth opportunity arises from the emerging linkages between the polymer processing sector and the agricultural sector.  2011 International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA). All rights reserved. Sporleder et al. / International Food and Agribusiness Management Review / Volume 14, Issue 2, 2011 There are several key trends driving the demand for renewable polymers. Renewable materials
help mitigate the effects of increasing demand for oil and volatility in supply and price (Conway
and Duncan 2006; Paster et al. 2003). Rapid technological progress opens many prospective
industrial markets based on renewable polymers. Biotechnology and plant breeding continue to
produce crops with higher yields and desirable plant composition for bioproduct applications.
Further plant improvements, combined with advances in chemistry, engineering, and
manufacturing, will further enhance efficiency by lowering relative costs compared with
petroleum-based counterparts (Paster et al. 2003; Perlack et al. 2005).
Concomitant with these technological advances is considerable growth in consumer preference
for “environmentally-friendly” and sustainable products. As a result, more U.S. businesses,
including major retailers such as Walmart, are adopting policies that promote environmental and
social responsibility. These policies may require suppliers to innovate by introducing more
sustainable materials, especially in product packaging (Brody 2006). Industry members, who
produce products marketed by major retailers, are pursuing strategies to integrate the use of
renewable materials into their product lines to enhance their market position (FPA 2006).
In the United States, for example, the Federal Biobased Products Preferred Procurement Program
(USDA 2007) now requires federal agencies to purchase renewable products (made from plant or
animal sources) in designated categories. This opens potentially large markets for vendors of
renewable products and services, further stimulating demand. In addition, compliance costs for
petroleum-based industries are escalating. New national environmental policies or international
agreements (such as the Kyoto Agreement) may internalize costs of pollution and greenhouse
gas emissions. Current costs associated with environmental regulation are significant for
petroleum-based industries (Deloitte 2005). Another demand factor is rapidly escalating disposal
cost for solid waste disposal. Renewable products can be removed from the solid waste stream
and composted, rather than deposited in landfills. This effectively reduces costs and provides
environmentally favorable alternatives (GIA 2006).
Emerging technologies related to a renewable polymer production from natural sources, such as
plants, animals, and microorganisms, have opened substantial economic opportunities and
potentials within the chemical, agricultural, and polymer clusters1 over the past few years. What
is currently not known is the magnitude of the economic impact of this emerging renewable
polymer cluster and the promise of future market opportunities for renewable polymers. The
research reported herein focuses on precise definition of the emerging renewable polymer supply
chain. The goal of the applied research is to provide an economic assessment of the market
opportunity for renewable polymers.

Polymer Supply Chains

While this analysis focuses on polymers it is important to include petroleum and chemicals in a
supply chain context to capture the economic complexity of biobased industrial markets.
Polymers represent a significant subset of the chemical industry but the basic chemicals industry
supplies the specialized chemicals (such as polymers) to industrial markets (Deloitte 2005).
1 A business cluster is a geographic concentration of interdependent businesses, suppliers, and associated institutions
in a particular economic sector. Clusters enhance the efficiency and/or productivity of all firms within the cluster so
they may compete on a more sustainable basis within global markets.
 2011 International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA). All rights reserved. Sporleder et al. / International Food and Agribusiness Management Review / Volume 14, Issue 2, 2011 Polymers Defined Analysis of the chemical and polymer industrial markets requires careful definition. Polymers are substances consisting of molecules with a large molecular mass made of repeating structural units, also called monomers, and connected by covalent chemical bonds (PolymerOhio 2008). There are four classes of polymers: thermoplastics, thermosets, fibers, and films and coatings (Carlsson 2002). Some well-known examples of polymers include plastics, DNA, and proteins (GIA 2006). A polymer consists of various chemical compounds composed of monomers linked together. Some polymers occur naturally while others are artificially created, but polymers are used widely in industrial markets for plastic, glass, concrete, and rubber. Synthetic polymer industrial markets include automobiles, computers, planes, buildings, eyeglasses, and paints. Polymers are the newest addition to the bulk materials arena, having only been used for five to seven decades, but in substantial amounts (Crank et al. 2005). There are several different types of polymers used: polyester, polysaccharides, polyurethanes, and polyamides (Crank et al. 2005). The majority of feedstocks used to make polymers are derived from oil, a finite resource. With volatile prices that the petroleum market experiences, it is important to understand the economic linkages between conventional polymer production and crude oil. Conventional polymer production utilizes crude oil in three ways: as a raw material or feedstock, as a source of energy during polymer manufacturing, and as a fuel source in transporting finished polymer products (Task Force Report 2008). Renewable Polymers Renewable polymers (sometimes referred to as ‘biopolymers’ or ‘bioplastics’) are substances derived from biomass such as a living plant, animal, or ecosystem, which has the ability to regenerate itself (GIA 2006). Renewable polymers are derived from biomass feedstocks such as corn, potatoes, wheat and soybeans. A biopolymer is a macromolecule formed in a living organism such as starch or proteins. Biobased polymers include co-polyester-based, polylactic acid, starch-based, soybean-based, lignin-based (from wood), water-soluble and polycaprolactone (GIA 2006; Platt 2006), Table 2. The term “renewable polymers” is used throughout this research as opposed to other popular expressions such as “biopolymers”, “bioplastics”, and “bioproducts”. The majority of feedstocks for plastics today are derived from crude oil. A source is renewable if it can be replenished at a rate comparable or faster than its rate of consumption; thus, it has a sustainable yield (USDOE 2007). Polymers made from biomass’ monomers are known as renewable polymers, which can be replaced by growing more biomass and repeating the extraction process. Biodegradable Complexities The terms “bioplastics”, “biopolymers”, and “bioproducts” regularly confuse the public because they tend to associate “bio” with the definition of “biodegradable”. These terms can be confusing since petroleum-based polymers can be biodegradable and plant-derived (renewable) polymers can be non-degradable (NNFCC 2007). This is why the term “renewable” more accurately reflects the characteristics of biobased polymers.  2011 International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA). All rights reserved. Sporleder et al. / International Food and Agribusiness Management Review / Volume 14, Issue 2, 2011 Table 2. Most important types of bio-based polymer groups
Bio-based polymer group
Type of polymer Structure/Production
by fermentation, followed by polymerization 1. Bio-based 1,3-propanediol by fermentation plus petrochemical terephthalic acid (or DMT) Other polyesters from bio-based intermediates fermentation plus petrochemical terephthalic acid fermentation or in a crop Bio-based polyol by fermentation or chemical purification plus petrochemical isocyanate 1. Bio-based caprolactam by from a conventional chemical transformation from oleic acid via azelaic acid Source: Adapted from Crank et al. (2005)
Biodegradable refers to a material that biodegrades by microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and algae) found in the environment and will eventually biodegrade completely into carbon dioxide or water. The American Society for Testing and Materials standard ASTM-6400-04 specifies the criteria for biodegradability of plastic, which requires 60% biodegradation within 180 days (ASTM 2008). Compostable polymers are plastics that degrade by biological processes during composting to yield carbon dioxide, water, and inorganic compounds and biomass at a rate consistent with other compostable materials and leave no toxic residue. Polymers can be either biodegradable or not. In addition, biodegradable polymers can be manufactured completely from petroleum-based resources (Crank et al. 2005).  2011 International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA). All rights reserved. Sporleder et al. / International Food and Agribusiness Management Review / Volume 14, Issue 2, 2011 Economic Analysis of Polymer Industrial Supply Chain

An input-output (I-O) economic model consists of a set of linear equations where each equation
explains the distribution of an industry’s production throughout other industries representing the
rest of the economy (Blair and Miller 1985). The I-O model was developed by Wassily Leontief
in the late 1930s and is a well-established method that has been widely used to analyze changes
in interindustry activity (Blair and Miller 1985).
The I-O model captures what each business or sector purchases from every other sector to
produce a dollar’s worth of goods or services. The I-O model is used to capture the economy-
wide interdependencies so as to analyze demand changes (Lee and Schluter 1993). The model
captures industry interdependencies since each industry employs the outputs of other industries
as its raw materials or as factors of production. Uncovering these interdependencies can show
how much of each industry’s output is used by other industries in the economy. Economic
measures the I-O model provided for each sector are total employment, estimates of the direct
purchases per dollar of output, income, contribution to gross domestic product (GDP), and the
total dollar value of output. In this application, the I-O model is useful in developing the precise
details of the interdependencies inherent in an industrial polymer supply chain.
The Chemical, Polymer, and Petroleum Cluster Industrial Supply Chain 

Scope of the Supply Chain

To illustrate the magnitude of the polymer industrial supply chain, an input-output model that
precisely defines the polymer supply chain is estimated for 2007, Table 3. The table is
constructed so that the total polymer supply chain is accounted for in the top portion. The supply
chain consists of five sector components, listed by the degree of value add the sector represents
in the total industrial supply chain. The five components are 1) petroleum and natural gas
extraction, 2) chemical manufacturing, 3) polymer manufacturing, 4) mold and equipment
manufacturing related to polymer production, and 5) chemical and polymer wholesale
distribution. These five sectors, each composed of numerous industries, represent the industrial
supply chain for polymers. Consequently, the industrial supply chain for renewable polymers is
embedded within the supply chain defined in Table 3.
Since there is focus on polymers and renewable polymers in this research, detailing the polymer
sector as defined in Table 3 is useful. The polymer sector is comprised of five manufacturing
subsectors: 1) coated and laminated packaging, paper, and plastics film, 2) plastics material and
resin, synthetic rubber, and organic fibers, 3) paints, coatings, and adhesives, 4) plastic products,
and 5) rubber products. The most economically important subsector in most studies is plastic
product manufacturing. The primary feedstocks for this sector come mostly from the chemical
manufacturing sector consisting of four manufacturing subsectors: 1) petroleum and coal
products, 2) basic chemicals, 3) soap, cleaning compounds, and toilet preparations, and 4)
chemical products and preparations. Similarly, the primary feedstocks for the chemical
manufacturing sector are purchased from the petroleum and natural gas extraction sector.
 2011 International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA). All rights reserved. Sporleder et al. / International Food and Agribusiness Management Review / Volume 14, Issue 2, 2011 ployment
son Years
,749,151
Per
sands
u
76,327.7
$ Tho
Domestic
Thousands
97,325.9
199,105.0
679,883.9
103,967.3
Product (GDP)
$
ousands
42,595.5
975,457.9
21,470.6
44,491.8
409,717.2
$ Th
2,093,733.0
d to Polymer Production
luster
roleum C
nd Petroleum Cluster
pment Manufacturing Relate
emicals, and Pet
h
Table 3.
Polymers, C
Petroleum and Natural Gas Extraction
Chemicals
Polymers
Plastics Material and Resin, Synthetic Rub Mold and Equi
Chemical and Polymer Distribution (Wholesale)
Total Polymers, Chemicals, a
 2011 International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA). All rights reserved. Sporleder et al. / International Food and Agribusiness Management Review / Volume 14, Issue 2, 2011 on Years
ployment
rs
Pe
172,889,152
176,638,303
nds
a
Thous
398,062.7
$
1,023,018.1
Thousands
,807,600.2
Product (GSP)

$
13,127,716.3
Gross Domestic Product, Income and Employment, ousands
h
T
$
25,603,190.5
23,509,457.5
e input-output model but is disaggregated. United States Polymer Supply Chain: Output, The wholesaling sector is one sector in th General Manufacturing & Service Sectors
Textiles, Apparel, Accessories, Yarn & Leath Motor Vehicles, Allied Equipment & Services Publishing & Information Technologies Total of Manufacturing & Service Sectors
Total U.S. Economy
 2011 International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA). All rights reserved. Sporleder et al. / International Food and Agribusiness Management Review / Volume 14, Issue 2, 2011 Size of the Supply Chain

The input-output model is designed to estimate the industrial supply chain for polymers in the
United States. The estimated model provides a summary of the entire United States economy by
sector and the corresponding numbers for the value of output, gross state product, income and
the number of persons employed by each sector, Table 3. The model consists of 39 sectors with
a total gross domestic product (GDP) for 2007 of $13.8 trillion. Total economic output for the
entire economy in 2007 was $25.6 trillion, with total employment of almost 177 million. The
chemical, polymer, and petroleum supply chain’s share of total GDP is $679.9 billion, or about
5% of total GDP. This translates into the supply chain generating about $4.92 of each $100 of
U.S. total GDP. This lends a quantitative perspective to the importance of this industrial supply
chain to the national economy.
More specifically to the polymer sector of the supply chain. The polymer sector accounts for
$104.0 billion of the cluster’s total GDP of $679.9 billion, or about 15%. The industrial supply
chain cluster GDP of $679.9 billion is divided among its five components. The largest
component of the cluster’s GDP comes from the petroleum and natural gas extraction sector that
accounts for $271.5 billion, a share of 40%. The chemical sector’s $199.1 billion GDP is about
29% share for the entire supply chain. This contribution consists of over $106 billion from both
the petroleum and coal products manufacturing, a 53% share of the total chemicals
manufacturing GDP contribution. Another $41.2 billion of GDP is accounted for by the basic
chemical manufacturing subsector. Soap, cleaning compounds, and toilet preparation
manufacturing subsector adds another $38.5 billion to GDP while the chemical products and
preparation manufacturing contributes $13.1 billion.
The largest segment of the polymer manufacturing sector is plastics product manufacturing
subsector, representing $53.0 billion in GDP, or over half the total GDP for the entire polymer
sector. The next most significant subsector of the polymer sector is plastics material and resin,
synthetic rubber, and organic fiber manufacturing which contributes about $22.2 billion to GDP
for the entire polymer sector, or over one-fifth of the polymer total.
The chemical and polymer cluster contributes 1.45 million jobs to the United States economy.
The polymer sector of this cluster represents the largest share, contributing nearly 982 million
jobs, or about one in four jobs in the total industrial supply chain cluster. The chemical and
polymer distribution sector contributes the most to employment, accounting for over 1.4 million
jobs. This accounts for about 37 in every 100 jobs for the entire supply chain.

Industrial Market Trends for Renewable Polymers

Types of Renewable Polymers Polymers made from renewable feedstocks are emerging and facilitate cleaner production of a broad array of chemicals. There are three primary types of renewable polymers: starch, polylactide acid (PLA), and biopolymer poly-3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB).  2011 International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA). All rights reserved. Sporleder et al. / International Food and Agribusiness Management Review / Volume 14, Issue 2, 2011 Starch and starch blends account for about 80% of the renewable polymer market. Pure starch
compounds can absorb humidity and is used for drug capsules in the pharmaceutical sector.
Polylactide acid (PLA) is a transparent plastic made from natural resources, such as corn. It not
only resembles conventional petrochemical mass plastics in its characteristics but also does not
require specialized processing equipment. PLA and PLA-blends generally are shipped as
granulates and are used in the plastic processing industry for the production of foil, moulds, tins,
cups, bottles and other food and non-food packaging. The biopolymer poly-3-hydroxybutyrate
(PHB) is a polyester produced from renewable feedstocks. Its characteristics are similar to those
of the petrochemical-produced plastic polypropylene. The South American sugar industry has
decided to expand PHB production to an industrial scale (Biomass Research and Development
Technical Advisory Committee, 2008). PHB produces transparent film at a melting point higher
than 130 degrees Celsius yet is biodegradable without residue.
Trends in the Renewable Markets

Biobased products are slowly penetrating markets in the United States. The American Chemistry
Council (2009) forecasted that in 2005 the U.S. chemical industry would increase 5% to $700
billion. However, they estimated that overall, chemical industry production would fall 1.5% in
2008 and this trend would continue through 2009, falling again 1.5% compared with a 2007
growth. The National Petroleum and Refiners Association estimated that the U.S. chemical
industry output declined by 3.2% in 2008 from 2007 (Storck 2006) predicting that production of
virtually all major petrochemicals would decline in 2008 after a rise in 2007 (O’Reilly 2009).
Industry sales rose by 2.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and production increased by
2.6% CAGR during the 1998-2007 period, Table 1. Some longer-term studies suggest dramatic
renewable chemical and polymer growth from 2020-2050 (Patel, et al., 2006).
Global demand for renewable polymers, which include plastic resins that are biodegradable or
derived from plant-based sources, is forecasted to reach 890,000 metric tons in 2013 (SPI).
Primary drivers for this four-fold increase over 2008 levels include the development of bio-based
feedstocks for commodity plastic resins, enhanced restrictions on the use of certain plastic
products such as plastic bags, and enhanced demand for environmentally-sustainable products.
Bioplastics are expected to become more cost-competitive with petroleum-based resins in the
intermediate term. Biodegradable plastics, such as starch-based resins, polylactic acid and
degradable polyesters, accounted for almost 90% of the bioplastics 2008 market.
Nonbiodegradable plant-based plastics are anticipated to be the primary driver of bioplastics
demand. Demand for non-biodegradable plant-based plastics is forecasted to increase from just
23,000 metric tons in 2008 to nearly 600,000 metric tons in 2013.
Western Europe is the largest renewable polymer producer, accounting for about 40 percent of
world demand in 2008. Renewable polymer sales in the region benefit from strong consumer
demand for biodegradable and plant-based products, a regulatory environment that favors
bioplastics over petroleum resins, and an extensive infrastructure for composting. However,
future increases are forecasted to be relatively more rapid however in the Asia/Pacific region,
equaling West European market production levels by 2013. China is expected to open over
100,000 metric tons of new renewable polymer capacity by 2013.
 2011 International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA). All rights reserved. Sporleder et al. / International Food and Agribusiness Management Review / Volume 14, Issue 2, 2011 The BREW Project In 2006, several universities and research institutions in the EU collaborated to produce the “BREW Project”, which estimates the growth opportunities for biobased chemicals in Europe (Patel, et al. 2006). This research identifies three scenarios for the growth of the biobased chemicals industry in Europe applied to a specific set of biobased chemicals and their petrochemical counterparts. Growth rates for the biobased chemicals industry are applied to volumes of tonnage of each biobased chemical (Patel, et al. 2006). The growth rates used in the “BREW Project” are a result of primary data collection that codified expert opinion. Because the “BREW Project” employed expert opinion and is recent (2006), it is considered an important global reference in forecasting the dynamics of renewable polymer industrial markets. Future Renewable Chemical and Polymer Industrial Markets 

Emerging technologies related to renewable polymer production from natural sources, such as
plants, animals, and microorganisms, have opened substantial economic opportunities and
potentials within the chemical, agricultural, and polymer clusters of the state over the past few
years. What is currently not known is the magnitude of the economic impact of this emerging
renewable chemical and polymer cluster and the promise of future market opportunities for
renewable polymers. This knowledge is critical to stakeholders within the renewable polymer
cluster if private sector firms make the investment necessary to become leading producers of
innovative renewable products and materials.
The BREW report utilizes a CAGR of 1-3% to construct all its scenarios for the future.
Considering additional industry reports within the United States, the 1-3% annual growth rate
seems reasonable. Growth rates and technical substitution potentials for the renewable chemical
and polymer cluster depend on several factors. These factors include crude oil prices, alternative
feedstock prices, and biotechnology development (Sporleder 2005). For example, renewable
industrial markets will be slow to emerge if 1) global crude oil prices are sustained at relatively
historic low levels, 2) alternative feedstock prices are higher than crude oil prices, and 3)
minimal biotechnology innovation related to renewable polymer advancement occurs.
Individual Firm Innovation Strategy and Complementary Assets

From the viewpoint of senior managers, the innovation strategy for a firm in the
chemical/polymer industrial supply chain is important to the future competitiveness and
sustainability of the firm. Innovation in agricultural biotechnology has been rapid and
encourages and facilitates designer genes from various germplasm sources to become renewable
polymer ingredients in a wide array of applications never before possible. Hence, the individual
firm strategy relative to innovation is a vital aspect of how firms will develop and participate in
emerging renewable polymer future supply chains. The problem can be captured in the first-
mover theory that isolates key factors regarding managerial decision-making about renewable
polymers.


 2011 International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA). All rights reserved. Sporleder et al. / International Food and Agribusiness Management Review / Volume 14, Issue 2, 2011 First-mover Strategy Pioneer firms are first-movers that attempt to gain advantages over rivals from being first with an innovative product or service in a market. These first-mover advantages may include strong image and reputation, brand loyalty, technological leadership, and being in an advantageous position relative to the ‘learning curve’ involved in managing a specific product or process innovation. Three advantages may be realized by pioneer firms: 1) the preemption of rivals, 2) the imposition of switching costs on buyers, and 3) the benefit that accrues from being seen by customers as a technological leader compared to rival firms (Sporleder et al. 2008). Second-mover or follower firms have the advantage of lower costs through less expensive imitation of first-mover products (or processes) and the resolution of market or technological uncertainties faced by first-movers. Taken together, market pioneers deploy innovative products or processes with high initial costs and risks, but yield high potential returns. This also implies that second-movers or followers experience lower costs because imitation is less expensive than innovation. How do firms decide to engage in first-mover compared to second-mover strategies for new product development (NPD)? What factors influence this decision? What role might the supply chain play in making this decision? These questions are key to the success of innovation in renewable polymers. One useful construct for better understanding the linkage between supply chain issues and firm innovation strategy is complementary assets. Complementary Assets as Bridge from Firms to Supply Chains Capture and sustainability of first-mover advantages are related to complementary assets (Teece 1986). Commercialization of innovation requires linking with complementary assets such as marketing expertise, brands, and logistics and supply chain networks, all in support of the innovation. In general, a firm’s competitive advantage is a function of the unique organizational skills that determine how it combines and orchestrates assets over time. The degree of innovativeness of a new product is related to whether the new product can be produced and marketed by existing complementary assets available to the firm. When an innovation requires new capabilities, it may create intrafirm conflicts. The more disruptive the innovation is from a customer’s view, the more the portfolio of existing assets needs to be changed. Hence, the probability of innovation adoption declines for any time t or the rate of adoption slows (i.e. slower diffusion). This is because the customer may not want to acquire or build complementary assets to make innovation adoption feasible, as in the case of B2B or industrial markets. The strength of appropriability regimes also may influence the sustainability of economic rents to innovators. Appropriability refers to the ability of various stakeholders to retain the economic rents generated from the commercialization of an innovation. Weak appropriability regimes imply that stakeholders will have difficulty in capturing sustainable economic rents from their innovation. Economic rents from commercializing an innovation potentially are shared among the innovator, customers buying the innovation, suppliers to the innovation, and second-movers or followers. Commercializing innovation by firms that lack complementary assets, or in the event that only ‘generic’ general-purpose assets are required, leads to weak appropriability.  2011 International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA). All rights reserved. Sporleder et al. / International Food and Agribusiness Management Review / Volume 14, Issue 2, 2011
What is the most appropriate characterization of chemical/polymer supply chains regarding
appropriability? What specific implications does this have for supply chain coordination and the
potential for sustainable rent capture from innovation in renewable polymers aimed at industrial
markets? These questions need systematic analysis to better understand this emerging area of
renewable polymers.

Conclusions

The objective of this research was to precisely define the polymer industrial supply chain in the
context of value added industries. The research is only a beginning at analyzing emerging
industrial supply chains that link renewable germplasm from agriculture to manufacturing
sectors. The input-output model provides inter-industry linkages among various sectors and
industries that form the total U.S. economy. The model is designed to maintain significant detail
in the chemical and polymer cluster. This facilitates estimates of the economic importance of
this entire cluster, along with the industries of the general manufacturing and services sectors.
The economic measures of importance provided are output, gross domestic product, income, and
employment.
The input-output analysis indicated that in 2007 the chemical and polymer cluster output accounted for about 5% of total gross domestic product. United Sates GDP was $13.8 trillion with about $679.9 billion accounted for by the polymer industrial supply chain. The chemical and polymer industrial supply chain cluster contributes $4.92 of each $100 of United States GDP. Four manufacturing and one distribution sector defines the chemical/polymer industrial supply chain. These include: 1) petroleum and natural gas extraction, 2) chemicals manufacturing, 3) polymer manufacturing, 4) mold and equipment manufacturing related to polymer production, and 5) chemical and polymer wholesale distribution. The polymer manufacturing sector includes five subsectors: 1) coated and laminated packaging, paper, and plastics film, 2) plastics material and resin, synthetic rubber, and organic fibers, 3) paints, coatings, and adhesives, 4) plastic products, and 5) rubber products. The polymer sector contributes about 15% of the total GDP contribution accounted for by the entire industrial supply chain. The largest subsector within the polymer sector is plastics products manufacturing, which accounts for over half of the total GDP contribution by the polymer sector. Three-fourths of the contribution from the polymer sector comes from plastics products manufacturing, and plastics material and resins and synthetic rubber manufacturing. Individual firm strategy relative to innovation is a vital aspect of how firms will develop and participate in emerging renewable polymer supply chains. The strength of appropriability regimes within emerging chemical/polymer supply chains will influence sustainable rent capture for firms within the chain. Weak appropriability regimes imply that stakeholders will have difficulty in capturing sustainable economic rents from their innovation. Economic rents from commercializing an innovation may be shared among the innovator, customers buying the innovation, suppliers to the innovation, and second-movers or followers. These issues will be resolved over time as dynamic supply chains for renewables emerge globally.  2011 International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA). All rights reserved. Sporleder et al. / International Food and Agribusiness Management Review / Volume 14, Issue 2, 2011 References

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