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How Do Chain Governance and Fair Trade Matter? A S-LCA Methodological Proposal Applied to Food Products from Belgian Alternative Chains (Part 2)

Institute for Environnemental Management and Land-Use Planning (IGEAT), Université Libre de Bruxelles, Av. F. D. Roosevelt, 50, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium
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Resources 2019, 8(3), 145; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources8030145 (registering DOI)
Received: 29 June 2019 / Revised: 4 August 2019 / Accepted: 9 August 2019 / Published: 16 August 2019
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Abstract

Alternative food networks (AFNs) have emerged to improve both environmental and socio-economic aspects of food provisioning, including the living and working conditions of farmers. Their objectives are supposed to be mediated through the shortening of chains and/or the implication of alternative value chain actors (VCAs). Through the application of a social life cycle assessment methodological proposal on two products from three Belgian AFNs, we first verify how the AFNs meet sustainability promises. Second, we investigate how such social sustainability of the assessed products is influenced by the differentiated configurations of chain governance in the AFNs. Such a discussion of root causes of social sustainability performances in product chains have been investigated very little as of yet. Our results show that AFN perform well in some aspects (consumer aspects, work satisfaction, social ties between VCAs), but in some others, AFN chains use similar mechanisms as the ones used by mainstream chains (unbalanced market power, unfair prices, and low commitment between VCAs), with potentially detrimental effects on profitability and employment conditions for VCAs located upstream, i.e., farms. Our framework is useful to highlight social hotspots in product chains, and to discuss these across the differences in the configurations of the chain layout and—in the end—chain governance. View Full-Text
Keywords: S-LCA; Social LCA; social life-cycle assessment/analysis; alternative food networks; short food chains; product chain governance; social impacts/performances of product chains; transaction modalities; fair trade; buying practices S-LCA; Social LCA; social life-cycle assessment/analysis; alternative food networks; short food chains; product chain governance; social impacts/performances of product chains; transaction modalities; fair trade; buying practices
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Sureau, S.; Lohest, F.; Van Mol, J.; Bauler, T.; Achten, W.M.J. How Do Chain Governance and Fair Trade Matter? A S-LCA Methodological Proposal Applied to Food Products from Belgian Alternative Chains (Part 2). Resources 2019, 8, 145.

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