Research project
36 | monthsALT_NET

Towards fair and efficient food chains: short food supply chains and alternative food networks

Related toSpoke 01

Principal investigators
Federico Caniato

Other partecipantsPaola Caputo; Verónica León, Giulio Ferla, Belinda Borrello (Polimi), Maria Cecilia Mancini (UNIPR)
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Task involved

Task 1.2.2.

Towards fair and efficient food markets: implementation of methodologies to define economic efficiency through innovative retailers and fair price management within the value chains.

Project deliverables


Report on methodologies to improve the economic and social efficiency of value chains (including ex-ante impact assessment) (M12);


Report on good practices related to sustainable accountability and communication approaches in quality value chains (M24)

Interaction with other spokes

State of the art

Innovative logistics and distribution models in food industry are increasingly being developed and studied for increasing efficiency and sustainability in food networks. However, although several models are proposed, the actual environmental impact is yet to be studied.  
Alternative food networks (AFNs) are created as a response to the traditional linear and long supply chains as models that could be simpler, fairer and more efficient. Previous literature has attempted to describe such networks but the sustainability component is not yet clearly identified nor proven. Short food supply chains (FSCs) are one type of the alternative food networks, characterized by limited geographical distance and direct link between buyers and suppliers. These types of chains are expected to be more sustainable as well, especially due to the higher geographical proximity that implies shorter distances travelled and less emissions generated. However, how the AFNs and short FSC are characterized for sustainability, what are their configurations, their strength and weaknesses are yet to be further analyzed.
Along these lines, this project aims at i) investigating the energy and environmental impact of innovative food logistics and distribution models and ii) studying the characteristics that make up an AFN and a short FSC with sustainability goals.

Operation plan

This part of task T 1.2.2 aims to contribute to research and practice on innovative, fair and efficient food chains by investigating i) the energy and environmental impact of the food innovative models for logistics and distribution; ii) the characteristics and sustainability implications of short FSC and AFNs. 
The research activity will be conducted through i) the quantitative evaluation of the environmental impact of innovative food logistics and distribution models, and ii) multiple case studies of short FSC and AFN from different actors’ perspectives. 

Expected results

In line with the research aims and methods described above, the expected results of this part of task T1.2.2 include:

1. analysis of the energy and environmental impacts of the innovative models for logistics and distribution respect to the ex-ante context

2. development a taxonomy of Short FSC and Alternative Food Networks with sustainability purposes, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses;