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Research has established the efficacy of short food supply chains (SFSC) and local food systems (LFS) as a means of improving the livelihoods of small-scale farmers, contributing to rural development and delivering socio-economic benefits for consumers and communities.


Industrial farming and long-distance food chains pose threats to the environment, climate and rural livelihoods.



Geographers at Coventry University described different SFSC and LFS and gathered evidence concerning the pros and cons of introducing an EU labelling scheme for local products and direct sales.

The study produced three original case studies, 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.



Findings contributed to the evidence base that informed the European Parliament’s decision to adopt new policy measures. As a result, 300,000 farmers have been supported to develop SFSC, local markets, enter quality schemes and producer groups during 2014-2020. 

In Poland, for example, the research provided evidence used to lobby for legislation to support ‘local food for local markets’. In 2017-18, this contributed to regulatory changes that enabled farmers to sell directly to consumers.

In Croatia, the research contributed to the first training on SFSC delivered in the country. The training materials developed were used to inform the ‘Guidelines for Institutions’ to support SFSC in Croatia. Following this, the Croatian Ministry of Agriculture included SFSCs in new legislation on public procurement and organization of family farms.

In Hungary, policy picked up concepts from the research and 66 million Euros were allocated to short food supply chains.


More information 

Institution: Coventry University

Researchers: Professor Moya Kneafsey, Professor Ulrich Schmutz, Dr Matthew Blackett, Dr Liz Trenchard, Gemma Foster, Elizabeth Bos

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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2023) Supporting rural development through short food supply chains and local food systems. Available at  Last accessed on: <date>