Local agriculture and short food supply chains have economic, social and cultural benefits for farmers, consumers and rural areas in general. This sector increases the income of farmers and the consumption of fresh and relatively unprocessed food, brings consumers and farmers closer, engages public institutions in its promotion, helps to strengthen rural-urban linkages (particularly in the case of peri-urban agriculture) and contributes to sustainable development. The sector is growing across Europe to meet rising consumer demand.
There is no common agreement on the possible environmental benefits. Some studies consider the environmental impact depends more on the mode of agricultural production rather than the transportation of products (a shorter distance does not always mean less CO2 emission per tonne-kilometer). However, the Green paper on promotion measures and information provision for agricultural products said that short supply chains reduce transports cots and can help improve environmental performance in terms, for example, of limiting CO2 emissions or packaging.
Typology of short supply chains includes direct sale by producers (such as farm sales, farmers’ markets, fairs, baskets, community sales point) and sales with at least one intermediary (such as, Internet, retail sales, shops). Some initiatives to develop local markets and short food supply chains are due to the support and promotion of farmers, distributors or consumers. For example: the “Association pour le Maintien de l’Agriculture Paysanne” (AMAP) in France, the “Groupe d’Achat Solidaire de l’Agriculture Paysanne” (GASAP) in Belgium and the “Gruppi di Acquisto Solidaire” in Italy.
In the current Rural Development Programmes 2007-2013 short supply chains are supported by the Leader projects and by several measures such as: modernisation of agricultural holdings, quality of agricultural production and products and support for business creation and development. The European Network for Rural Development established a Working Group on Short Supply Chains during the 11th National Rural Networks meeting in April 2011. The Working Group is led by the Réseau rural français and includes some other interested National Rural Networks and some EU organisations.
Regarding the Rural Development Programmes 2014-2020 the European Commission integrated short supply chains in its regulation proposal. According to this proposal (article 2) short supply chain is “a supply chain involving a limited number of economic operators, committed to co-operation, local economic development, and close geographical and social relations between producers and consumers”. Besides, one of the six priorities for the Rural Development Programmes 2014-2020 is “Promoting food chain organization and risk management in agriculture”. In addition, Member States may include within their rural development programmes thematic sub-programmes to address specific needs identified in particular in relation to young farmers, small farms, mountain areas and the creation of short supply chains.
Aware of this sector’s importance, the European Commission organized a Conference in April 2012 in order to explore ways and means to mobilise and value the economic potential of local agriculture and short food supply chains.
Topics related to local agriculture and short food supply chains are: promotional measures (which will be covered by rural development programmes and excluded from the future promotion scheme), sanitary norms and hygiene rules and quality schemes in agriculture (the new Regulation states that “no later than 4 January 2014 the Commission shall present a report to the European Parliament and to the Council on the case for a new local farming and direct sales labelling scheme to assist producers in marketing their produce locally”).
In general, short supply chains are characterized for the fragmented nature of agricultural production in most of the European Union. Hence, most of the information we found focuses on local or regional experiences as we show in this library keysource.
Short food supply chains and local food systems in the EU: a state of play of their socio-economic characteristics / Moya Kneafsey (et al.). European Commission, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, June 2013. 128 p.
The present study aims at describing the state-of-play of short food supply chains (SFSC) in the EU understood as being the chains in which foods involved are identified by, and traceable to a farmer and for which the number of intermediaries between farmer and consumer should be minimal or ideally nil. Several types of SFSCs can be identified, for example Community-Supported Agriculture, on-farm sales, off-farm schemes and collective sales. SFSCs are present throughout the EU, although there are some differences in the different MS in terms of dominating types of SFSCs.
Politiques de développement territorial intégré: les circuits courts / Isabelle Laudier (et al.). Institut CDC pour la Recherche, LEED-OCDE, January 2013. 130 p.
The report discusses issues about territorial development strategies focusing on local resources in order to the introduction of short supply chains: how to optimize the use of resources at the local level in cooperation between different territorial levels? The report focuses on cross-cutting issues (governance, coordination between territorial scales, resource mobilization and long term) by providing an analysis frame.
Local food and short supply chains / European Network for Rural Development. EU Rural Review, July 2012.72 p.
This issue analyzes several aspects: definition of local food and short circuits, benefits, challenges, consumer and local products, partnerships and strategies as well as some experiences from France.
Food safety of the short supply chain: symposium SciCom 2012. Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC), 2012. 80 p.
Nutritional and organoleptic concerns are resent in the food short supply chains because lots of consumers believe that such products are better for their health and tastier. Besides the advantages, there are also some specific risks linked to local food and short supply chains. The aim of this symposium is thus to inform risk managers and the general public in the most complete and neutral way on the state of the art.
Circuits courts alimentaires, dynamiques relationnelles et lutte contre l’exclusion en agriculture / Yuna Chiffoleau. Économie rurale 6/2012 (n° 332), p. 88-101.
Short food supply chains are sometimes idealized while their capacity to reduce inequalities remains little studied. From the contribution of economic sociology, the article tries to show in what extent and how these supply chains, as markets promoting social links, may integrate marginalized social positions, identified through a preliminary bibliographical and survey work.
Les circuits courts de commercialisation: un retour de l’acteur paysan? / Annie Dufour et Émilie Lanciano. Revue Française de Socio-Économie 1/2012 (n° 9), p. 153-169.
Short food supply chains are part of a movement promoting smaller-scale agriculture. The purpose of this article is to examine the transformations taking place in the farming profession by analyzing how market gardeners who are selling in short supply chains integrate themselves professionally.
The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: examples of food projects / European Network for Rural Development, 2011. 24 p.
Food priorities for the EU include safeguarding food supplies and providing European citizens with quality, value and a diversity of food which is produced sustainably. EU rural development policy is involved with supporting the competitiveness of Europe’s food sector through modernisation and innovation. Case studies: Poland, Malta, France, Czech Republic, Spain, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Italy and Sweden.
Le développement des circuits courts alimentaires: un nouveau souffle entrepreneurial dans l’agriculture? / Emilie Lanciano, Séverine Saleilles. Congrès International Francophone sur l’Entrepreneuriat et la PME, 2010. 20 p.
To meet a growing demand for local food, farmers are opting for short supply chains. The authors show how the choice of this type of chains is an entrepreneurial act. They identify key points around this reconciliation between entrepreneurship and agriculture.
New emerging roles for public institutions and civil society in the promotion of sustainable local agro food systems / Henk Renting and Han Wiskerke. 9th European IFSA Symposium, 2010. 11 p.
In recent years a growing engagement of local public institutions in the promotion of sustainable food production, consumption and distribution systems can be witnessed. This paper explores and aims to conceptually frame the fairly new, phenomena of sustainable food procurement and urban food strategies.
Alimentation: circuits courts et circuits de proximité / Tiphaine Delhommeau; sous la direction de Denis Stokkink. 2009. 256 p.
Short circuits are dynamic sector which is based on criteria of geographical and relational proximity. They preserve the environment and the well-being of societies. They provide a response to a growing demand for healthy and quality food. Short circuits are fully in the social economy, especially because they can give the citizen’s role as an economic actor.
La notion de proximité pour analyser les circuits courts / Cécile Praly (et al.). XLVIème colloque de l’Association de Science Régionale de Langue Française, 2009. 17 p.
This paper presents some reflections on the development of a framework analysis to understand the relationships between producers and consumers in the short food supply chains.
Expectations, experiences, trust in the case of short circuit food supply networks / Gaetano Martino and Melanie Fritz. International European Forum on System Dynamics and Innovation in Food Networks, 2010. 18 p.
Farmers’ markets are receiving an increasing attention by both food chains actors and social scientists. Both consumers and producers are fostering their expectations about the renewal of a mode of exchange which sustained local production consumptions linkages. The objective of the paper is of investigating the role of networks among producers and consumers in structuring and making viable the Farmer Markets as structures of short food supply chains.
Mercados de agricultores en España: diagnóstico y propuestas de actuación / José Ramón Mauleón. Centro de Estudios sobre la Despoblación y Desarrollo de Áreas Rurales, Documentos de trabajo n° 23, 2010. 19 p.
Farmers’ markets constitute an effective way to deal with the crisis being experienced by family farming and therefore rural depopulation. They also provide other advantages as meet growing consumer demand for fresh, local food, or revitalize the local economy. The objective of this research is: to understand the factors that favor the strengthening these markets and, based on them, make a proposal on how these markets should create or promote.
Local food at Italian farmers’ markets: three case studies / Riccardo Vecchio. International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food, vol. 17, n°2, 2010, p.122-139.
The article, presents the results of consumers’ focus group discussions, in-depth interviews with vendors and direct observation at three Italian markets (Montevarchi, Naples and Potenza) provides empirical support that the desire to purchase locally produced food is not high on the list of surveyed shoppers’ priorities.
Farmers’ markets: mercati contadini: la filiera corta e i consumatori /Valeria Bugni. Supplemento n° 2 a Gaia 42/2009 trimestrale edito dal Movimento dei Consumatori, 2010. 91 p.
The article analyzes food crisis at European level in relation to new patterns of trade to the detail of fruit and vegetables. The text cites examples of farmers’ markets in Italy, in other European countries and in the United States.
Labelling of agricultural and food products of mountain farming / Fabien Santini, Fatmir Guri, Sergio Gomez y Paloma. European Commission, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, 2013. 158 pages Summary of the report (7 pages).
The chapter 3 of this report (Mountain agricultural and food supply chains: a descriptive picture, pages 22-79) gathers information on the supply chains for agricultural and food products in mountain areas (products involved, main issues related to the location of the different stages of the supply chain such as feed, production of raw material, processing, etc.).
Short supply chains for local food in mountain areas / Beata Kupiec-Teahan. 9th European IFSA Symposium, 4-7 July 2010. 8 p.
The paper focuses on factors responsible for the resilience of short, local food supply networks formed in mountain areas. A case study of Community Interest Company located in remote area of Scotland have shown that trust and relationships amongst supply chain participants in the supply chain and other stakeholders are critical factors in overcoming infrastructural and market barriers to the development of a successful local enterprise.
Le développement des circuits courts et l’agriculture périurbaine: histoire, évolution en cours et questions actuelles / C. Aubry, Y. Chiffoleau. INRA, Innovations Agronomiques, vol. 5, 2009. 15 p.
Short supply chains show a great diversification in periurban areas, where they are often sustained by local administration, farmers representations and consumers. However, their proportion in periurban agriculture varies as shown by our two examples in the French regions of Ile de France and Languedoc-Roussillon. Short supply chains are today insufficiently known and analysed in national statisctics.
Short supply chains in periurban zones: a way to maintain rurality near the city?: some examples taken in the Île-de-France Region / Christine Aubry, Leïla Kebir, Catherine Pasquier. Rurality Near the City, 2008. 9 p.
This article analyzes short supply chains in the Ile de France and shows how short supply chains and territorial development near the city can be linked. The article gives also By doing, first guidelines and thinking elements for policy makers.
Canales cortos de comercializacion como elemento dinamizador de las agriculturas ecológicas urbana y periurbana / D. López García. I Congreso Estatal de Agricultura Ecológica Urbana y Periurbana, 2011. 15 p.
In recent years agriculture in urban and in peri-urban areas has increased. This article describes the evolution of the short supply chains in the organic agriculture in urban and peri-urban areas in Spain focusing on the connection both, between the city and the surrounding rural areas and between consumers and farmers.
Environment – Sustainability
Consommer local, les avantages ne sont pas toujours ceux que l’on croit / Ministère de l’Ecologie, du Développement durable et de d’Enérgie. Le point sur n° 158, Mars 2013. 4 p.
Enthusiasm for local food is partly due to the expectation of lower environmental impacts because the distance between producers and consumers are shorter. However, the production of agricultural products has more environmental impacts than its transportation.
Les circuits courts, des innovations sociales pour une alimentation durable dans les territoires / Yuna Chiffoleau et Benoît Prevost. Norois 3/2012 (n° 224), p. 7-20.
Short food supply chains occur as territorial innovations taking part in the reformulation of local dynamics through the emergence of socio-economic practices whose implications pertain to the different dimensions of sustainable development. They take part in the empowerment not only of producers but also of the set of territorial partners around a mobilization in favour of sustainable food.
Les circuits courts favorisent-ils l’adoption de pratiques agricoles plus respectueuses de l’environnement? / Gilles Maréchal, Alexiane Spanu. INRA, Courrier de l’environnement n° 59, October 2010. 13 p.
The environmental benefits of supply chains are often mentioned but in some cases the arguments are not solid. This paper analyzes this interaction in Bretagne.
The Logistic leverages of short food supply chains performance in terms of sustainability / Corinne Blanquart (et al.). 12th World Conference on Transport Research, 2010. 19 p.
Local food supply chains seem now to be considered as a serious alternative to global ones in terms of sustainability. A lot of initiatives are developed and they often are associated with economical, social and environmental benefits. The main objective of this paper is to discuss the reality of these advantages.
Explorez le développement territorial durable avec les circuits courts alimentaires/ Centre ressource du développement durable. October 2010. 36 p.
This guide provides a territorial approach to projects of short food supply chains. The guide analyzes the following issues: the relocation of economic flows, the positive impact of agricultural activities on the environment, the land rebalanced response to the expectations and the needs of the population.
Local food in European supply chains: reconnection and electronic networks / Georgina Holt. Anthropology of food, March 2007.
After giving an overview of the market for local food in the UK, as well as a definition of the concept in relation to short supply chains, organic agriculture and fair trade, the article draws on cases encountered through EC-funded research and networking to identify different types of network concerned with the concept of sustaining local food. With reference to six cases, the article underlines the importance of local food systems within food sustainability, and highlights the weight of human and social qualities in the market balance.
Producción y consumo ecológico en Zaragoza provincia: efectos de la distribución “kilómetro Cero” / Juan Camón Cala. Diputación Provincial de Zaragoza, 2011. 92 p.
This publication analyzes short food supply chains of organic farming in Zaragoza.
Canales alternativos para la comercialización de los alimentos ecológicos en los mercados locales / Beatriz Fadón Junyent, Daniel López García. Ecos del Tajo, 2010. 32 p.
This publication analyzes short food supply chains of organic farming. The brochure is focused on Spain.
Etude de cas: le Drive-Fermier Girondin / sous la direction d’Aurélie Laborde. Recherches aquitaines sur les usages pour le développement des dispositifs numériques. February 2013, 78 p.
Conducted by a team of seven students from ISIC (Université Bordeaux 3), this study focused on the Drive-Farmer, innovative form and eco-friendly consumption, offering to sell the products of local producers through digital platform. This system is presented as a new way to create a link between consumers and producers through the use of short circuit allowing consumers to buy online to get their control relay point.
Promoting farmers and agri-cooperatives positioning in the food supply chain / COPA-COGECA, 2013. 8 p.
This document highlights the importance of the food supply chains, the imbalances of power in the food chain and proposes some actions such as promoting economic organisation of farmers, legislation and Creation of an “European Food Trading Agency”.
Alimentation et agriculture: résultats du Groupe thématique national Circuits alimentaires de proximité / Réseau rural français. Dossier thématique n° 6, June 2012. 35 p.
Short supply chains strength links between agriculture and local food and there are at the heart of the revitalization of territories. The French Rural Network considers that the challenge is to capitalize on the current experiences and draw lessons for the links between agriculture and food become key drivers of sustainable regional development.
Small farms and short supply chains in the European Union: position paper / European Coordination Via Campesina. April 2012, 12 p. Version in French.
The marketing has to be direct or in short food supply chain (up to 1 local intermediary). This label can not be use by big retailers (it doesn’t exclude the possibility for farmers to sell their products to supermarkets if they already have one for other way of commercialization).
ARC2020’s reaction to the EU Commission’s legislative proposals for the future CAP. April 2012. 6 p.
ARC2020 considers that specific support measures that build new infrastructure for short supply chains including public institutions should be introduced e.g. along the lines of the USA-style farmers’ market and farm-to-schools programmes.
Circuits courts: une relation de proximité / Emmanuelle Langhade (coor.). Chambres d’agriculture (France). Mach 2010. 30 p.
While traditional short circuits have always existed (markets, direct sales), new forms are developed to meet consumer expectations. They offer new alternatives for producers. A better understanding of supply and developed today is necessary to assess their economic and territorial impact and optimize the support of project.
The Common Agricultural Policy: Special Eurobarometer 368 / European Commission, May 2011. 65 p.
According to the Eurobarometer, nine out of ten people agree that buying local products is beneficial and that the EU should help to promote their availability. Almost half of all respondents say they find local products hard to identify.
Consumers’ sustainability perceptions of the supply chain of locally produced food / Ari Paloviita. Sustainability 2010, p. 1492-1509.
This article is based on a qualitative focus group study regarding consumer perceptions in Finland about the sustainability of locally produced food supply chains. The results conclude that the development of local food networks requires direct personal relationships with producers, social networking, consumer education and communication.
Etude sur la perception et les attentes vis-à-vis de la commercialisation des productions locales par les circuits courts / Service publique de Wallonie, Portail de l’agriculture wallonne, 2010. 98 p.
Profils des consommateurs intéressés par les circuits courts / Service publique de Wallonie, Portail de l’agriculture wallonne, 2010. 19 p.
Consumers’ attitude towards farmers’ markets in Tuscany / B. Rocchi, A. Cavicchi and M. Baldeschi. 116th EAAE Seminar Spatial Dynamics in Agri-food Systems, October 2010. 13 p.
In this paper the results of a survey carried out in several farmers’ markets and shops in Tuscany are presented. A sample of consumers was interviewed on-site using a structured questionnaire.
European Parliament resolution of 19 January 2012 on the imbalances in the food supply chain (RSP 2011/2904).
European Parliament resolution of 7 September 2010 on fair revenues for farmers: a better functioning food supply chain in Europe (INI 2009/2237).
European Parliament resolution of 25 March 2010 on Agricultural product quality policy: what strategy to follow? (2009/2105(INI)).
Committee of the Regions
Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on “Local food systems” (outlook opinion) (2011/C 104/01). 88th plenary session held on 27 and 28 January 2011
Case studies and country approach
Short supply chain, from strategy to practice. Experience from Flanders Belgium / Johan Verstrynge. Landbouw en Visserij. 2012. 84 p.
This publication analyzes short food supply chains in Flanders.
Vade-mecum de la valorisation des produits agricoles et de leur commercialisation en circuit court / Service publique de Wallonie, Portail de l’agriculture wallonne. July 2012, 88 p.
This guide is intended for anyone active in the development of agricultural production and marketing in short food supply chains and more particularly: farmers, artisans of food sector and “food purchasing groups”.
Agriculture de proximité, circuits courts: les territoires aquitains s’impliquent: guide pour l’action 2011 / Réseau Rural en Aquitaine, 2011. 60 p.
This guide aims at gather information and identify key steps in short supply chains. The guide highlights issues that typically arise when local actors want to contribute to the development of local circuits.
Renforcer le lien entre agriculteurs et consommateurs: plan d’action pour développer les circuits courts / Ministre de l’alimentation, de l’agriculture et de la pêche. June 2009. 4 p.
This action plan is based on the rapport du groupe de travail circuits courts de commercialisation.
Rapport du groupe de travail circuits courts de commercialisation / Ministre de l’alimentation, de l’agriculture et de la pêche. Mars 2009. 24 p.
The report shows the findings of a working group established to study short food supply chains. The report highlights the situation of these supply chains, its advantages, the difficulties for its development and establishes the necessary conditions to facilitate these supply chains.
Local food systems and rural sustainability initiatives by small scale rural entrepreneurs in Finland / Pekka Jokinen, Marja Järvelä, Antti Puupponen. Maaseudun uusi aika 2, 2009. 16 p.
The paper addresses the re-localisation of food systems and aims to understand how it may open up new opportunities for rural entrepreneurship and how these opportunities might contribute to sustainable development and rural livelihood.
Food supply chains in lagging: rural regions of Finland: an SME perspective / Leene Viitaharju (et al.). University of Helsinki – Ruralia Institute, 2005. 159 p.
The objective of this report is to review and to evaluate factors influencing supply chain development and performance in Finland from rural small and medium size enterprises. A high proportion utilise traditional production methods, emphasising local identity and distinctiveness, thereby differentiating products and servicing niche or segmented markets. Such enterprises frequently integrate with other sectors of the local economy, such as raw material suppliers, distributors, tourism and catering, thereby enhancing local activity.
Local Food System Development in Hungary / Balázs Bálint. International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food, Volume 19, issue 3, 2012, p. 403-421.
This article examines local food system development pathways in the context of recent regulatory reforms in Hungary implemented to promote local product sales and short food supply chains. Two case studies demonstrate how new types of local food systems initiated by non-farmers attempt to shorten the distance between consumers and producers.
Facilitating ad encouraging short food supply chains / National Rural Network Ireland. June 2013. 40 p.
In recent years there has been a renewed interest and a significant growth in alternatives to the conventional food supply chain which allow primary producers and consumers to connect in new and more direct ways. This study involved both desk research and intensive interviews. The results of this research add to the emerging knowledge base on this fast-growing sector of the food industry and rural landscape and more specifically, suggest how the sector might be encouraged and facilitated to grow and develop further.
Italian NRN contribution to the “short supply chain” workshop. 2011. 7 p.
This paper shows an overview on the “short supply chain” sector in Italy and on the Italian experience of Integrated Supply chain Projects.
Sviluppo di politiche e strumenti a supporto della vendita diretta di prodotti agroalimentari. ISMEA. April, 2011. 80 p.
This study analyzes direct sales in Italy through information sources and field interviews. The study shows some case studies and analyzes this sector in other EU Member States and non EU countries. The study highlights models “of excellence” in terms of organization, management and logistics, including an analysis of the structure better information for direct sales via Internet.
Direct selling in Italy: a marketing strategy to promote localized agrofood systems / Laura Aguglia and Cristina Salvioni. 9th European IFSA Symposium, 2010. 11 p.
The aim of this work is to study the recent evolution of direct selling in Italy and the determinants of the adoption of this marketing strategy. The first part of the paper analyses the evolution of short supply chains in Italy. In the second part of the paper the analysis is focused on the determinants of the choice to selling directly.
Canales cortos de comercialización en el sector agroalimentario / Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente, 2013. 186 p.
The study was conducted between September and December 2012 and its methodology is based on review of literature and on interviews. The study provides a standardized and categorized catalogue of relevant initiatives (innovation, tradition, scope…) in Spanish and in other countries.
Circuitos cortos de comercialización en Andalucía un análisis exploratorio / Inés González Calo (et al.). Revista española de estudios agrosociales y pesqueros, n° 232, 2012, p. 193-230.
This article analyzes the short food supply circuit in Andalucía: mainly its context, typology and localisation.
From field to fork: the value of England’s local food webs / Graeme Willis. Campaign to Protect Rural England, June 2012. 72 p.
This report presents findings and recommendations from a five-year national project – Mapping Local Food Webs – to engage local volunteers across England to research their local food ‘webs’: the network of links between people who buy, sell, produce and supply food sourced locally.
Several EU Member States
Local Food systems in Europe: case studies from five countries and what they imply for policy and practice / edited by Sandra Karner with contributions from Michael Dower and the FAAN project team. FAAN, 2010. 52 p.
This report summarizes the main findings, which are based on qualitative empirical research of 10 case studies from Austria, England, France, Hungary and Poland (two in each of the countries). The report includes recommendations about policy changes that would be necessary to strengthen local food systems in future.
Local Food Systems: practices and strategies: FAAN workshop / compiled and edited by Sandra Karner. FAAN, 2010. 47 p.
The workshop was designed to provide an opportunity for interested stakeholders to discuss practices and strategies of developing local food systems. The discussions were structured around the findings of the FAAN research project.
Un producteur sur cinq vend en circuit court / Agreste Primeur. January 2012. 4 p.
Premières tendances: une exploitation sur cinq fait du circuit court / Agrestre Languedoc-Roussillon. December 2011. 4 p.
Related legislative procedure(s)
Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). (Procedure file: 2011/0282(COD)).
Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 November 2012 on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs (OJ L 343, 14.12.2012 ) (Procedure file: 2010/0353(COD)).
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and The Committee of the Regions on promotion measures and information provision for agricultural products: a reinforced value-added European strategy for promoting the tastes of Europe COM/20127148 (Procedure file: 2012/2077(INI))