The Stickiness or Geographic Sourcing Patterns in the International Trade of Agricultural Products

Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium)


Interventions to address sustainability challenges related to land use increasingly target supply chains actors such as importers, processers and retailers, and their sourcing decisions. Understanding how geographic sourcing patterns function and how international trade reacts to shocks, such as new policies, economic crisis, political overhaul, or droughts, is crucial to avoid undesired spillover effects of supply chain interventions to improve the sustainability of land use. A central issue in this context is whether global markets are deeply integrated and fluid so that a shock affecting one company or territory is diluted, or instead if markets exhibit forms of “stickiness” which influence how shocks restructure the production and trade relations, and thus the allocation of environmental impacts.

The objective of this PhD is to analyse how sourcing and selling decisions of actors along supply chains react to interventions and policy changes and in particular which factors influence the rigidity of supply chains. The work will combine large-scale analyses across different regions and commodities relying on subnational and company-specific supply chains data from the TRASE platform, with an in-depth focus on a specific commodity in South America or Southern Africa. The research will address the following questions:

  • How are trade networks of agricultural products related to other geographical, political, cultural, linguistic, and historical linkages among countries?
  • How do decision-makers in different positions of supply chains perceive constraints and opportunities to shift their sourcing or selling?
  • How does the stickiness or geographic sourcing patterns in supply chains influence the likelihood or magnitude of leakage resulting from supply-chains interventions?


Tiago Reis

Université catholique de Louvain, Earth and Life Institute, Georges Lemaître Centre for Earth and Climate Research (TECLIM)
Place Pasteur 3, bte L4.03.08, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

“My research objective is finding opportunities to improve the sustainability of global commodity supply chains through the development of an analytical framework that enables us to look at companies’ behaviour and geographic sourcing patterns, i.e., stickiness.”

Tiago Reis

PhD Thesis

The sustainability of global agricultural trade: understanding stickiness in Brazil’s soy supply chain.

29.09.2021, Louvain-la-Neuve / Online.

Publications …

Russo Lopes, G., M.G. Bastos Lima, T.N.P. dos Reis (2021): Maldevelopment revisited: Inclusiveness and social impacts of soy expansion over Brazil’s Cerrado in Matopiba. World Development 139:105316,

Reis, T.N.P. dos, P. Meyfroidt, E.K.H.J. zu Ermgassen, C. West, T. Gardner, S. Bager, S. Croft, M.J. Lathuillière, J. Godar (2020). Understanding the Stickiness of Commodity Supply Chains Is Key to Improving Their Sustainability. One Earth 3(1):100-115,

Kehoe, L., T.N.P. dos Reis, P. Meyfroidt, S. Bager, R. Seppelt, T. Kuemmerle, E. Berenguer, M. Clark, K. Frankel Davis, E. K.H.J. zu Ermgassen, K.N. Farrell, C. Friis, H. Haberl, T. Kastner, K.L. Murtough, U.M. Persson, A. Romero-Munoz, C. O’Connell, V.V.Schafer, M. Virah-Sawmy, Y. le Polain de Waroux, J Kiesecker (2020). Inclusion, Transparency, and Enforcement: How the EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement Fails the Sustainability Test. CommentaryOne Earth 3:268-272.

… and more