DEFINITION of ‘Downstream’
This is a fairly common business term used across many industries to describe a specific stage of the production process. A downstream element follows an upstream process and typically infers some sort of refining, reworking, or repackaging into smaller units and usually, includes product distribution and final sales. In almost all cases, ‘downstream’ involves direct contact with the end-user, or customer.
BREAKING DOWN ‘Downstream’
In the sugar cane industry, the upstream period of the production system includes field preparation, seeding, irrigation, fertilization and plant harvest. Once the cane has been harvested and converted into a marketable product, it moves to the downstream stage and can be either refined further or mixed with other materials to create separate products ready for consumption. Generally, each step of the process can itself be broken down into up and downstream stages. For example, consider the fertilization step noted above. Upstream, the chemicals would need to be procured, prepared and packaged for distribution from the factory. Downstream would include every step from delivery to the farmer to loading into aircraft and spraying.