The role of demand for regional development – Green transformations in the food industries in Scania and Värmland
Research on regional transformation typically sees regional economic change as an outcome of innovation and knowledge creation processes. The role of demand, however, has received little attention so far. In this paper, we summarize the empirical research findings from a research project on the role of demand in new regional industrial path development, focussing on the transformation of the food sector towards environmentally friendly production. The food industry is in need to renew its production system in order to cope with climate change and other environmental challenges. Further, it is a consumer-driven industry and characterized by complex and diverse demand conditions, which makes it a relevant case to study the role of demand. Theory building is based on accounts on regional industrial path development and regional innovation systems, as well as sociotechnical transitions. Empirically, we focus on two Swedish regions, Scania and Värmland, and data from a large-scale survey with all food-processing companies in the two regions as well as in-depth interviews with firm representatives and industry experts. The material is analysed in order to map and comprehend the role of altering demand conditions for regional economic transformation. We provide novel research on regional transformation of mature industries and seek to inform policies to promote industrial renewal via demand conditions.