In recent years, increasing attention has been paid to individuals’ organizing themselves and managing food systems in an ‘alternative’ and more sustainable way. Such emerging food initiatives are most commonly known as ‘Alternative Food Networks’ (AFNs). However, there is an ongoing debate concerning the extent to which AFNs facilitate social, economic and environmental change. There are criticisms of the overall sustainability promise of AFNs related to sufficiency of impact, possible counter effects and the relevance of impacts. Because empirical studies often only focus on specific sustainability issues or AFNs, it has been difficult to develop more robust theories about the relations between diverse AFNs arrangements and sustainability. Thus, the aim of this paper is to contribute towards reducing this knowledge gap through a systematic literature review on AFNs in relation to sustainability. We summarize main methodological approaches, the types of AFNs studied and sustainability dimensions addressed in literature to date. Findings serve as reference to propose opportunities for future research regarding sustainability in AFNs.
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