Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering


Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering

First Advisor

Caroline C. Krejci


Consumers are increasingly seeking fresh and healthy food that has been sustainably produced by regional food producers. However, most consumers also value convenience and efficiency and prefer to purchase food from retailers and restaurants, rather than from producers directly or farmers’ markets. Regional food hubs provide aggregation, warehousing, transportation, and marketing services for these regional food producers, allowing them to focus on food production rather than logistics and marketing. Additionally, food hubs give small and mid-sized producers the ability to reach larger markets and customers than they could reach on their own. These services can help producers tremendously in their efforts to grow their businesses.

However, once food hub managers have helped to establish connections between producers and new customers, they often find themselves cut out of the regional food supply chain when the producers decide to sell their products directly to the customers, thereby avoiding the food hub’s service fees. While this can have short-term financial benefits for the producers, widespread disintermediation can eventually lead to food hub failure, which can disrupt the entire regional food system. To avoid this, food hub managers must develop and implement policies that will support long-term and mutually beneficial relationships with their producers and customers.

This thesis describes an agent-based modeling methodology to study disintermediation in an intermediated regional food supply network in Iowa. The model is designed to serve as a decision support tool for food hub managers, allowing them to simulate the effects of various supply chain management strategies on producer decision making and long-term organizational and system success. The methodology is tested by conducting three experiments. Further, this thesis develops an empirical study to validate the computational model and conducts a pilot test of the study. Based on the results of the experiments and pilot study, the computational model proves useful for studying the problem of disintermediation.


Copyright Owner

Teri Jo Craven



File Format


File Size

118 pages