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Open AccessArticle

Measuring the Economic, Environmental, and Social Sustainability of Short Food Supply Chains

Faculty of Economic Sciences, Warsaw University of Life Sciences, 02-787 Warsaw, Poland
SIFO Consumption Research Norway, Oslo Metropolitan University, 0130 Oslo, Norway
ECO-SENSUS Research and Communication Non-profit Ltd., 7100 Szekszárd, Hungary
Department of Chemistry, Life Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, Università degli Studi di Parma, 43124 Parma, Italy
Newcastle University Business School, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4SE, UK
School of Economics, University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City 700000, Vietnam
CESAER, AgroSup Dijon, INRA, Univ. Bourgogne Franche-Comté, F-21000 Dijon, France
Department of Economics and Management, Università degli Studi di Parma, 43125 Parma, Italy
Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Corvinus University of Budapest, 1093 Budapest, Hungary
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(15), 4004;
Received: 31 May 2019 / Revised: 5 July 2019 / Accepted: 12 July 2019 / Published: 24 July 2019
The production and distribution of food are among the hot topics debated in the context of sustainable development. Short food supply chains (SFSCs) are now widely believed to be more sustainable in comparison to mass food delivery systems. To date, very little quantitative evidence exists on the impacts of various types of food supply chains. Using a cross-sectional quantitative approach, this study assesses the sustainability of distribution channels in short and long food supply chains based on 208 food producers across seven countries: France, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam. Ten distribution channel types are used in this study. To provide a comprehensive sustainability assessment, a set of economic, social, and environmental indicators are applied. Indicators commonly used in the literature are used, supported by original indicators constructed specifically for the present study. In total, 486 chains are examined and the study confirms that individual producers participate simultaneously in several, short and long chains. Participation in SFSCs is beneficial for producers from an economic perspective. SFSCs allow producers to capture a large proportion of margin otherwise absorbed by different intermediaries. It appears, however, that ’longer’ supply channels generate lower environmental impacts per unit of production when measured in terms of food miles and carbon footprint. Finally, ambiguous results are found regarding social dimension, with significant differences across types of chains. View Full-Text
Keywords: short food supply chains (SFSCs); economic, social and environmental sustainability; indicators; impact assessment short food supply chains (SFSCs); economic, social and environmental sustainability; indicators; impact assessment
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Malak-Rawlikowska, A.; Majewski, E.; Wąs, A.; Borgen, S.O.; Csillag, P.; Donati, M.; Freeman, R.; Hoàng, V.; Lecoeur, J.-L.; Mancini, M.C.; Nguyen, A.; Saïdi, M.; Tocco, B.; Török, Á.; Veneziani, M.; Vittersø, G.; Wavresky, P. Measuring the Economic, Environmental, and Social Sustainability of Short Food Supply Chains. Sustainability 2019, 11, 4004.

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