EU Projects

SMARTCHAIN: Towards innovation-driven and smart solutions in short food supply chains

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SMARTCHAIN: Towards innovation-driven and smart solutions in short food supply chains

TOPIC: SFS-34-2017 Innovative agri-food chains: unlocking the potential for competitiveness and sustainability

SMARTCHAIN will stimulate demand-driven innovation in short food supply chains to improve competitiveness and foster rural development using multi-actor approach. The project is using an interactive innovation model where all actors involved in the project (entrepreneurs and practitioners directly involved in running short food supply chains, representatives of organisations concerned with supporting short food supply chains and a number of researchers with different expertise who specialise in short food supply chains) are working together to make best use of scientific and practical knowledge for the co-creation and diffusion of novel solutions ready to solve practical problems.


The consortium consists of 43 partners from 7 EU and 2 associated countries (Figure 1) who offer a wide expertise from science, practical knowledge, business and governmental institutions. Each of the partners/actors has a specific role to play in the consortium and each role acts synergistically with the others. Throughout the project, individual farmers, small-scale food producers, governmental institutions at the regional, national and European level, and society are taking part in the course-setting decisions to increase the accuracy of results and evaluations as well as to increase the direct applicability of the results. In the choice of the principle investigators, excellence and gender were taken into account.

In particular, 18 case studies of widespread short food supply chains with remarkable social, economic and ecological impacts on rural, peri-urban and urban communities will be evaluated in terms of innovation potential, consumer perspectives towards short food supply chains and overall sustainability (environmental, economic and social). SMARTCHAIN has selected an illustrative database of existing short food supply chains in Europe (see Table 1), whether this is amongst producers, or between producers and consumers, or between producers, consumers and local institutions. The aim is to reflect different types of short food supply chain models, to generate more precise, quantitative data regarding the impact of short food supply chains for a determined area and/or products as well as to capture the degree of geographical diversity across the EU. The case studies encompass agri-food products that are traditionally considered part of a balanced diet with strong links to EU markets in terms of production, consumption, distribution and their impacts on local communities. Various boundaries in the selected cases will be taken into account – from the supply of inputs and primary production to the delivery of products to consumers (e.g. natural resources, farming practices, food production and processing, safety and quality, distribution and storage, food integrity, food waste, market access and price, consumer preferences) also considering sustainability in different contexts (environmental, social, economic).

Moreover, a comparative assessment of the short food supply chains will be carried out in order to identify key characteristics and impacts on different stakeholders, with a particular focus on farmers/food producers and their relationship with consumers. SMARTCHAIN will explore the policies and regulatory requirements taking into account the different national and regional contexts, highlight regulatory barriers that currently hamper scaling up of short food supply chains and develop policy recommendations.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 773785


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