What is a Short Food Supply Chain?
Typically, food travels through long supply chains to reach our supermarket shelves or our dining tables. These complex systems involve supply chains with several intermediaries (distributors, wholesalers, retailers, food service operators, etc., between producers and consumers.
Consumers often look towards shorter and less complex systems. Short Food Supply Chains (SFSCs) offer a solution; defined as having as few links as possible between the food producer and the consumer/citizen who eats the food.
Some examples of SFSCs include:
- Direct sales between the producer and consumer: e.g. on-farm sales, farmers’ markets, internet deliveries directly from food producers, box delivery schemes, ‘pick your own’.
- Community-supported agriculture (CSA): a partnership between a group of people and a farmer. Members usually pay an agreed fee in advance of a growing season and in return receive a proportion of the farmers produce.
- Intermediaries: products sold to consumers through an intermediary that display clear information about the people and place involved in producing the product. Intermediaries include supermarkets, speciality retailers, butchers, etc.
It is worth remembering that SFSCs are not necessarily local (short in terms of geography) but instead are supply chains with as few links as possible between producer and consumer (short in terms of the number of links in the chain). They include, for example, Italian Parma Ham available in a Belgian supermarket with packaging displaying information about the specific farmer and processor who produced it. It may also include groups of farmers or producers working together, e.g. co-operatives, as well as individuals.
Below you can find images of just some of the many forms of SFSCs to further your understanding.
Greek feta cheese available in an Irish supermarket (an intermediary) with clear labelling informing consumers about where the product was produced and who produced it.
A butcher (an intermediary) clearly displaying information to consumers so that they know exactly what farms supply their meat.
A Farmer selling vegetables he grew on his farm directly to consumers at a farmers market.
A vending machine that dispenses milk produced by a local farmer.
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"We connect producers and consumers in new business and marketing models for Short Food Supply Chains"