Research project
36 | monthsBIO_LOC

The biodistrict: organic food for local consumers and local food business

Related toSpoke 01

Principal investigators
Filippo Arfini

Other partecipantsMaria Cecilia Mancini, Michele Maccari, Valentina Raimondi, Stefano Corsi, Alessio Cavicchi, Francesca Galli
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Task involved

Task 1.1.4.

Knowledge transfer and innovation strategies towards technological transfer actions, including dissemination and adoption of sustainable and energy-saving in food SMEs.

Project deliverables


Report on the transferability of technological innovation and adoption of sustainable practices in food SMEs (M36)

Interaction with other spokes

State of the art

Launched by European Commission (EC) in 2020, the Farm to Fork Strategy (F2F) aims to redesign sustainable agro-food supply chains, including farming system (FS), distribution, processing, consumers’ food security, since “food systems remain one of the key drivers of climate change and environmental degradation” (EC, 2020; p. 5). One of the main purposes of F2F is to support organic FS. While in 2020 organic land represented 9.1% of the total EU agricultural land (Eurostat, 2022), the strategy proposes to reach the 25% in 10 years (EC, 2020). To do so, F2F invites to stimulate both supply and demand. Supporting the demand means to increase the awareness and trust of consumers. Supporting the supply means to sustain the resilience and sustainability of organic FS, by making it more efficient, promoting new voluntary measures, increasing the farmers income.

The creation of Biodistricts is in line with F2F, since they are geographical areas where the actors of the food chain sign an agreement for the use and promotion of primary and processed food products from organic FS (AIAB, 2015; Abitabile et al, 2020).

Operation plan

Literature review of the existing documentation around criteria and indicators related to the social, economic, political, gender and cultural dimensions of the sustainability of the agri-food field, in the existing networks and initiatives in Italy.

Literature review of food public purchasing experiences and initiatives that have established criteria of proximity, ecology and guarantees through Participatory Guarantee Systems

We will identify the local food capacity of local organic farming system, in order to understand what is available at local level. By the other side we will point out the need for organic food by consumers and commercial actors (retailers, school canteens, catering, food processors) distributing at local level, in order to understand the gaps between the demand and the offer. 

We will study the different food values chains already operating either through alternative food networks and/or through more conventional food supply chains that include organic food. This means to include short food supply chains, but also other forms of food procurement. 

The analysis will be focused on the contracts, the spatial and social organization of supply chains. This will help in analyzing the environmental, social and economic impacts of supply chains. Network analysis will be applied to both understand the organization and the knowledge transfer, the possibility for future innovation. The analysis is important to understand the possibility to access to organic food for consumers. Data will be collected through database, interviews and participatory approach.

Expected results

  • Characterization in terms of quantity and quality, and mapping of organic supply. The quality will be defined considering the presence of other labels besides organic certification, such as Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS), Geographical Indications of Origin (GIs).
  • Characterization and mapping of food business working and distributing in organic food.
  • Foodshed analysis.
  • Local multiplier effect of organic food supply.
  • Foodprint analysis of organic food supply chains.
  • Socio-technical analysis of different organizational models of food supply chains at territorial level.
  • Contract analysis of different supply chains.
  • Collection, systematization and analysis of a set of indicators and criteria that are established around the following dimensions: social, economic, political, cultural and gender in the theoretical and applied frameworks of the Solidarity Economy in existing alternative food networks and biodistricts.
  • Map out municipal and regional public food purchase programmes in Italy, which have incorporated at least one of the following two criteria into their public food purchase strategies and programmes: a) local and agroecological and b) controlled through Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS).

The project aims at contributing to the following reports with a focus on organic food:

  • Report on selected governance models for both long distance and local value chains on the basis of selected case studies.
  • Report on network governance strategies aimed at facilitating access to food.
  • Report on the transferability of technological innovation and adoption of sustainable practices in food SMEs.
  • Report on Italian food environments with respect to socio-economic and geographical characteristics.
  • Report on methodologies to improve the economic and social efficiency of value chains (including ex-ante impact assessment).
  • Definition of innovative model for hybrid distribution of local food and network agreements.
  • Report on good practices for organisational and management models of public procurement.
  • Report on strategies improving the affordability of sustainable food in canteen through public and private procurement.
  • Report on innovative organisational and managerial forms of wholesale fruit and vegetable markets to improve fruit and vegetable consumption.
  • Report on social, economic, political, cultural and gender dimensions in selected alternative food networks and biodistricts. 
  • Report on food purchase programmes in Italy, which have incorporated social, ecological criteria.