Short food supply chains and local food systems in the EU
In recent times, short food supply chains and local markets, where farmers sell their produce directly to consumers or with a minimum of intermediaries, have flourished in all EU countries, both in rural and urban areas. They represent an alternative to conventional longer food chains where small farmers often have little bargaining power and the consumer cannot trace the food to a known producer or local area. On average, 15% of EU farms sell more than half of their production directly to consumers. From producers’ markets to basket delivery systems or community-supported agriculture, there is a great diversity of short food supply chains and local food systems in the EU. Their advantages include a fairer price for farmers, access to fresh and seasonal produce for consumers, a reduced environmental impact and greater social cohesion at local level. Local economies also benefit from such schemes, which have the potential to create jobs. The current EU rural development policy 2014-2020 puts more emphasis than before on short food supply chains and defines them precisely for the first time. Producers wishing to involve themselves in local food systems can benefit from several measures co-financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. In 2015, research was conducted within the agricultural European Innovation Partnership on the possibility to develop those systems in order to improve farmers’ incomes. In several recent resolutions, the European Parliament has also expressed its support for short food supply chains and local markets, as a way to ensure a fair price for producers and reconnect food products with their locality of origin.
Author: Marie-Laure AUGÈRE-GRANIER