Research project
36 | monthsPPP_URB

Public and private food procurement and short food values chains in urban areas

Related toSpoke 01

Principal investigators
Davide Fassi
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Highlights

InterviewJun 26, 2024

University Campuses as Models of Food Environments: The PPP-URB Project towards Sustainable Public Food Procurement


ReportMay 24, 2024

Food Systems research takes center stage in Mantova: highlights from the Food&Science Festival


FeaturesMay 8, 2023

Sustainable Food Procurement policies to improve the production and adoption of healthy diets.


Task involved

Task 1.2.3.

Food procurement and short food value chains: analysis and development of good practices for organisational and management models aimed to improve the affordability of sustainable food products in public and private canteens and fragile citizens through urban garden.

Project deliverables

D1.2.3.1.

Report on good practices for organisational and management models of public procurement (M12);

D1.2.3.2.

Report on strategies improving the affordability of sustainable food in canteen through public and private procurement (M24)

D1.2.3.3.

Report on strategies improving food quality and affordability for fragile citizens through urban gardens (M36).

State of the art

Public and private food procurement (FP) initiatives have started to gain momentum in the last decades as policy tools to enhance the quality, variety, affordability and sustainability of the food served in public and private canteens, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  
In this context, local governments and private actors through the implementation of FP strategies can play a key role in influencing the various stages of local food systems, from food production to food consumption up to food waste management.

Therefore, it is particularly relevant investigating how public and private FP may stimulate the local agricultural production (e.g. favoring the supply of “Km0” products, regional varieties and traditional agrifood products, locally and/or self-cultivated vegetables, highly nutritional and climate-resistant crops). Alternative local food production systems, such as urban gardens, may also provide opportunities for social integration of marginalized groups, as well as helping to promote environmental stewardship. 

Moreover, public and private FP can create accessible distributional channels for urban and peri-urban small farmers, while strengthening urban-rural linkages (i.e. short food supply chains – SFSCs, alternative food networks - AFNs), improve food quality and variety served in public and private canteens (sustainable diets).

At the same time, public food procurement is squeezed between the increasing demand for specific kinds of food (e.g. organic, local, healthy, ethnic) by consumers and the need to contain costs, avoiding to weigh on the public purse or on household fiscal contribution. Finally, FP strategies should be guided by a comprehensive assessment of economic, social, and environmental criteria of sustainability with a SC perspective, enabled also through the support of LC thinking and related methodologies and tools.

Operation plan

The task will entail several and synergic research activities investigating the role of FP strategies as sustainability tool from different perspectives: 1) based on a preliminary review of relevant literature, case studies will be conducted to identify good practices of private and public FP strategies promoting SFSCs and AFNs; selected innovative AFNs distributing food produced in urban and peri-urban areas (e.g. vertical farming, peri-urban agriculture and urban gardens) to public and private initiatives (e.g. canteens, bars, restaurants, point of sales) will be designed and prototyped – POLIMI; 2) selected case studies of public food procurement will be analyzed to identify the role of small local farmers in the agreements and at the same time quantify the level of satisfaction and engagement of consumers, citizen, and families – UNIMI; 3) a specific analysis will be performed on the reasons of choices and antecedents of SFSCs from consumers’ perspective by mapping different types of consumer behaviors and investigating how short food value can meet the needs of public and private canteen as well as fragile citizens – UNINA; 4) a new supply chain model will be developed to favour procurement and consumption of local and "km 0" vegetables, targeting Apulia products. Moreover, the beneficial healthy effects of self-cultivated vegetables will be evaluated through a systematic characterization of potentially bioactive compounds occurring in them, based on advanced analytical methods – UNIBA; 5) an analysis will be performed through quantitative and qualitative methods to understand the genesis and state of the art of urban gardens as tools for social integration of specific target groups (including elderly, young people and people with relational problems who require therapeutic activities and support for physical and/or mental rehabilitation processes) - UNICT; 6) the Life Cycle Assessment methodology will be applied to evaluate the supply and organization strategies of the distribution system (selected points of sale or food service canteens), including environmental criteria, economic parameters (Life Cycle Cost) and social parameters (S-LCA) - UNIMI

Expected results

In line with the planned research and experimenting activities described above, the expected results of this tasks include: 1) identification of good practices of private and public FP strategies promoting SFSCs and AFNs; definition and experimentation of innovative AFNs to be integrated in public and private FP initiatives - POLIMI; 2) identification of the main constrains and barriers to the development of innovative and inclusive networks and agreements in public food procurement. Particularly, definition of the role of small local farmers as well as that of users and design of FP models that maximize farmers’ benefits and improve citizens’ participation - UNIMI; 3) understanding of consumer behaviors and choices relatively to short food supply chains products. Definition of marketing strategies that can spur the match between suppliers of the short value chain and consumers - UNINA; 4) selection of local varieties useful for the enhancement and protection of Apulian agrobiodiversity and suitable for the development of a km0 market and for the collective catering; assessment of beneficial healthy effects of self-cultivated vegetables - UNIBA; 5) identification of new functions of urban horticultural practice (sociability, active citizenship, therapy), new populations (no longer just the elderly and frail), and mechanisms for attributing collective meaning to urban spaces, and the role of public policies to reduce socio-economic marginalization by improving social service delivery - UNICT; 6) definition of the strategic choices impacting the level of sustainability (based on environmental, social, economic criteria) of the distribution realities (large retail outlets and food service) - UNIMI

You might be interested in...

InterviewJun 26, 2024
University Campuses as Models of Food Environments: The PPP-URB Project towards Sustainable Public Food Procurement

We discussed this with Professor Davide Fassi, the project coordinator at the Politecnico di Milano


ReportMay 24, 2024
Food Systems research takes center stage in Mantova: highlights from the Food&Science Festival

FeaturesMay 8, 2023
Sustainable Food Procurement policies to improve the production and adoption of healthy diets.

The background context to understand Food Procurement, the work of WP 1.2, and the flagship research project PPP_URB.