The employment of Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) in agri-food products through recognized chains has a fundamental economic role in Ecuador. A substantial amount of research has focused on examining the crop performance of PDO products. However, there is a shift in the agri-food chain perspective towards more sustainable models. In this respect, social, economic, and institutional aspects are consequential and contribute to the agri-food sector development. The current rise in market opportunities at the local and international level drives support for them. This study aims to analyze socio-economic and governance components, in order to understand the PDO Cocoa Arriba (Theobroma cacao
) chain sustainability performance and propose potential future strategies. Principal Components Analysis was used to contribute relevant insight. This framework applies accounts with a revision of primary and supporting activities. The investigation clustered pre-production, production, and post-production tiers. It also executed food chain mapping and identified chain actors. Results suggested several viable long-term strategies. Examples of these strategies include the enhancement of national regulation to assist chain actors, and the stimulus of young producers and empowerment of associations. The main contribution to the research was the application of governance mechanisms to comprehensively assess chain performance. Based on the results, we recommend incorporating new indicators to analyze the environmental and institutional components in detail.
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