Development of a multi-objective goal programming model for the European apple industry
Within the European Union and throughout the world, apples are an important fruit crop and the EU apple industry sustains a healthy internal and external market. Consumers demand a high quality blemish-free product, which has inevitably dictated an intensive pattern of pesticide use to control pests and diseases throughout the industry. As a consequence, apple orchards are often treated with a continuos dosage of chemical sprays during their operational life, defending the crop against insect and fungal diseases. In turn, this pattern of intensive agro-chemical management has created social, economic and environmental impacts with hundreds of millions of people being exposed to pesticides each year, both on and off farm. However, against this, the economic benefit derived by the demand for pesticides for apples in the EU has led to the development of a sector generating an approximate turnover of six billion EURO, which clearly reflects social (employment) and economic gain.However, given the environmental problems associated with existing technologies, a collaborative European project was instigated to examine the improvements in environmental quality which might be gained through the introduction of new apple varieties, bred for their resistance to the most significant apple diseases, scab and mildew. Since such new varieties would still need to meet market requirements and would also need to be capable of delivering similar social and economic returns to the apple industry, assessing the likely success of the new apple variety involved a complex, multi-dimensional decision problem.This study shows the development of a mathematical programming model constructed to provide a tool for overcoming this multi-dimensional problem. Specifically, a Goal Programming model was developed to allow the simultaneous appreciation of Social, Environmental and Economic Goals within the EU apple industry. In constructing this model, this study was able to test the main hypothesis of whether it was possible to simultaneously compare the social, economic and environmental components of a whole industry when goals in each of these sectors are measured in quite different units. However, the model also tests, mainly through the use of sensitivity analysis, the likely social, economic and environmental impacts that the introduction of a specific new apple variety would have for the EU apple industry. The conclusions show it is possible to successfully model such multi-dimensional problems and illustrates the bounds within which a new apple variety could create a Pareto improvement within the EU apple industry.