Key objectives • To examine the process of globalization and the emer-

gence of food retailers as the dominant force in the food supply chain

• To explore the strategic response of the food manufacturing sector

• To explore the theoretical constructs of supply chain management

Introduction Less than a decade ago, the days of the giant conglomerate seemed over; they were too big, too complacent and too inflexible. However, the US economy has grown fast since 1992, with many big organizations becoming flatter, less bureaucratic and hierarchical in structure. The big corporation of the twenty-first century looks like being a loose alliance, a confederation of small entities, held together by knowledge and competencies, shared values and integrated missions. The edges of these amorphous organizations will become fuzzier, but their control, through patents and contractual agreements seems likely to grow. The knowledge economy requires ‘big science’ and only big corporations with big Research and Development budgets look likely to be able to afford it. Of course, the human brain cannot continue to accommodate an exponential growth of knowledge and the 300-year-old explosion of knowledge was flattening off by the 1960s. It is these diminishing returns to Research and Development that means the future belongs to the big corporation with deep pockets.