Greengrocer at a farmers market selling fresh fruit and vegetables

Short Food Supply Chains and Local Food Systems in the EU - A State of Play


European Commission
Institute for Prospective Technological Studies

Total value of project


Project team

Professor Moya Kneafsey, Laura Venn, Dr Ulrich Schmutz, Dr Liz Trenchard, Elizabeth Bos, Gemma Foster, Dr Matthew Blackett


Innovative Futures Research, Garden Organic


Bálint Balázs, ESSRG, Hungary

Duration of project

2011 - 2013

Project overview

The study aimed to describe the state-of-play of short food supply chains (SFSC) and Local Food Systems (LFS) in the EU. SFSCs are 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. Local Food Systems are not easily defined, but are generally understood as those in which production, processing and consumption of food occur in a commonly recognised geographical area such as one defined by physical, administrative or state boundaries.

The research conducted a systematic literature review of SFSCs and LFS in the EU and evaluated the socio-economic and environmental impacts of the main types of SFSC/LFS. It presented an updated typology of SFSCs and LFS and a new database of over eighty examples of SFSC/LFS, which were analysed using the capital assets framework.  It presented three original case studies in western, central and eastern Europe, drawing on semi-structured interviews, consumer surveys and focus groups. It provided an appraisal of the advantages and disadvantages of a labelling scheme, and recommended strategies that could be used to support SFSC/LFS, especially when businesses are in the start-up phase. For example, it recommended greater training and knowledge exchange for producers, especially in marketing, promotion and communication skills.

Project objectives

The study aimed to identify types of SFSCs and their impacts, and gather evidence concerning the pros and cons of introducing an EU labelling scheme for local products and direct sales.

  • The project contributed to the evidence base for EU policy discussions, informed research projects, and influenced policies and practices to enable the growth of SFSCs and LFS in several different countries.

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