Last decades have witnessed a quality turn in food production and consumption, which entails an increasing trend of acquiring food from local supply chains. Advocates of local supply chains highlight the higher sustainability of these chains when compared with their global counterparts: local food supply chains offer products of higher quality than global supply chains and are based on relations of trust between consumers and producers. However, processes of evaluating and comparing the performance local and global food supply embodied difficulties and complexities that have to be considered if the outcomes of quantitative evaluations are used for policy design and implementation.
This article compares Catalan local and global organic tomato supply chains in biophysical terms (based quantitative indicators). Main results of this analysis indicate that (i) local and global food supply chains are hardly comparable and/or interchangeable since their purposes (and the product) are very different in nature, (ii) the labels local and global have been judged too ambiguous to be used for a meaningful comparison across food chains operating in different geographic and socio-economic contexts, (iii) the analytical category food supply chain presents several disadvantages when performing an quantitative evaluation of diversified businesses (e.g. multi-crop farms or a vegetable wholesaler), and (iv) despite the fact that it is difficult to derive general conclusions or policy recommendations from the studied cases, the information produced in this research is useful for private and public policies aimed at improved some identified critical aspects of the studied food supply chains
This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Local and Global food supply chains. Is their comparison meaninful? Lessons learned from an organic tomato case study“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.