Topic 1.2: Short Food Supply Chains

The European Union defines a Short Supply Chain as 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, processors, and consumers.”3

This definition is applicable to the steps of Short Food Supply Chains (SFSCs)  as well, relating to actors in a smaller, more locally-centred sphere.

Most SFSCs follow this structure:

  • Limited number of operators
  • Cooperation commitment
  • Regional development
  • Close geographical/social distances4
    • 30 to 100 km (UK: up to 160 km, Sweden: up to 250 km, US: up to 644 km)
    • 5 h to 1 day between producers, processors, and consumers

Image by FReePik

Image by FReePik

The European Food Information Council (EUFIC) mentions several different forms of SFSCs.

The simplest form of SFSC involves direct sales from the farmer to the end-consumer (on-farm, farmers’ markets, internet deliveries).

Other forms include box delivery schemes, ‘pick your own’ gardens, and community-supported agriculture (CSA), where consumers financially support local growers by purchasing a ‘subscription’ to their fresh produce for a particular growing season.

The main products typically traded in a SFSC are fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables, followed by animal products (mainly meat, fresh and prepared) and dairy products as well as beverages.

Small Supply Chains Example

A farmer produces vegetable and sells it at on its farm or the the local farmers market.