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Postharvest Aspects of Local Food Supply Chains of Urban Centres

Posted on | February 20, 2015 | Comments Off

WG25 – Postharvest aspects of local food supply chains of urban centres

Local food systems are essential contributors to food and nutrition security in urban centres, as well as to the overall growth of city-region economies. However, significant opportunities exist to improve the environmental sustainability and social inclusion characteristics of such food systems.

In industrialized economies, local food supply chains (“local” commonly refers to food produced by or sourced from nearby farms and producers, yet the structure of these supply chains can take numerous forms) have recently re-emerged as an alternative to conventional food systems (e.g. based on economies of scale). The supply chains of urban food systems in developing countries vary by location, commodity and consumer. In many urban centres food is sourced within the country and then traded and transported through a fairly informal but often well-organised chain to urban centres. In some locations some types of food (usually staple commodities) may also have to be imported from other countries during some periods of the year or in response to poor harvests or civil disturbance. However, in all these situations, the postharvest aspects of the value chain are important for ensuring the functioning, quality and sustainability of the food supply chain. Urban food systems in many rapidly urbanising developing countries are becoming increasingly dynamic, and postharvest activities (e.g. transformation into innovative processed food) are playing an increasingly important role.

This working group aims to explore the diverse postharvest elements of local urban food systems, focusing on what is of interest for developing countries. Contributions to this working group may be in the form of study reports, empirical analyses, descriptions of innovative arrangements, or theories, targeting areas related to, but not limited to, the following topics:
- Analysis of the postharvest systems of an urban local food supply chain
- Environmental sustainability of postharvest stages (e.g. energy, water and other input use in packing, processing, storing, transporting, marketing) of an urban local food supply chain
- Transferring the true “environmental cost” of food through postharvest means (e.g. labelling, pricing).
- Social sustainability aspects of the postharvest stages of urban food supply chains (e.g. equitable profit distribution among value chain actors, working conditions in postharvest operations)
- Unpacking the complexity of food quality (including food safety) perceptions among different consumers and its effect on the postharvest stages of local food systems
- Innovative certification systems influencing postharvest stages of urban food supply chains
- Influence of consumers’ needs and demands on postharvest practices within the urban food supply chains
- Challenges associated with, and for, small local producers and informal markets in urban food systems
- Reducing postharvest food losses to improve the social, economic and environmental sustainability of urban food systems
- Contribution of social innovations for overcoming postharvest constraints in urban food supply chains
- Exploiting comparative advantages of postharvest characteristics of local food value chains.

Convenors:

Jorge Fonseca, FAO, Italy
Allison Loconto, INRA, France
Tanya Stathers, NRI, UK

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