The ability to determine the fragility of agribusiness value chains is valuable to agribusiness management practitioners and scholars in a context where risk and uncertainty are increasingly pervasive, consequential and unpredictable. The paper argues for determining the fragility of a chain to adverse events rather than trying to predict the probability and impact of such events. The paper specifically proposes a framework to detect and quantify non-linear consequences in response to progressively deteriorating chain fragility factors. The paper’s approach is a novel alternative to the traditional value chain ‘risk assessment’. Application of the framework to the South African lamb chain reveals that a number of specific factors, like quality and safety performance and cash flow position, have consistently high fragility scores throughout the chain while some factors are uniquely localized to a specific role-player or activity, which highlights the techno-economic uniqueness of individual activities in a chain.