Short Supply Chain


Short Supply Chains (or Shorter Supply Chain) involve as few intermediaries as possible, connecting local suppliers with local consumers more directly compared to conventional (longer) supply chains. The concept of proximity within supply chains can be defined as geographical proximity (physical distance between producer and consumer), social proximity (the direct or close social relations between producer and consumer) and organizational proximity (limited number of intermediaries). Short supply chains are part of policies and strategies towards more sustainable socio-ecological systems.  

The term has been coined as in opposition to conventional supply chains, which are nowadays mostly global, complex, and long in all three aspects (geographical, social, organizational). Conventional supply chains are part of industrial economy, based on profit, large scale, standardization, and concentration strategy (which refers to production, management, logistics, marketing etc.).  

Shortening supply chain postulates challenge this operational mode and address some of the disadvantages posed by global chains. Sustainability provides frame for some of those critics and develops short supply as solutions: strengthens the position of small-scale producers in food system, implements local policies aimed at social inclusion, prevents over-use of local resources and markets (environment, labour), reduces epidemiological, public health and climate risks, stimulates circular economy practices, respects indigenous cultures, economies and knowledge, etc. The values of short supply chains are not limited to economy but provide an alternative economic model (as an example see ->Alternative Food Networks). They refer to environment and planetary health, social justice, ->food safety and ->food sovereignty, well-being and social inclusion, cultural values etc.  

The concept of short supply chains has been raised and problematized especially in relation to food system. Short food supply chains (SFSC) was introduced in the 2014-2020 CAP and defined as formed by “a limited number of economic operators, committed to co-operation, local economic development, and close geographical and social relations between producers, processors and consumers (see The Regulation (EU) N. 1305/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). This policy encourages European small-scale producers to be part of SFSC initiatives and offers the possibility of co-financing from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (  

Many advantages of short food supply chains have mobilized the consumers within so called Locavore movement. Locavores prioritize local food supply chains and direct producer-consumer relations, e.g. within farmers markets or Community Supported Agriculture models. In some cases, the locality of food chains is defined geographically, like defining local limits by 50, 100- or 150-miles radius. The motivations for purchasing food locally vary from health and nutritional reasons, to economic, ethical, cultural and political. 

Short food supply chains are considered to adequately respond to challenges of contemporary food systems. They are included in agricultural policies and strategies, and developed as bottom-up social innovation, alternative and sustainable solution for local communities and environments. There are, also many initiatives, civil movements and organisations, claiming small-scale, short supply chains approach to be – to some extent - applicable in fashion sector. 

a)Academic/peer reviewed 

Canfora, I. (2016). Is the short food supply chain an efficient solution for sustainability in food market?. Agriculture and agricultural science procedia, 8, 402-407. 

Gallaud, D., & Laperche, B. (2016). Circular economy, industrial ecology and short supply chain. John Wiley & Sons. 

Marsden, T., Banks, J., & Bristow, G. (2000). Food supply chain approaches: exploring their role in rural development. Sociologia ruralis, 40(4), 424-438. 

b) Other sources: (2016-2021 research project on short food supply chains, materials, results, brochures) (The Regulation (EU) N. 1305/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD))