Open Food France (OFF)

A cooperative digital infrastructure for the development of proximity circuits

January 2019

Fondation Daniel et Nina Carasso (FDNC)

Towards a Europe of territorial food systems?

This study is extracted from the analysis of twenty-two French and Spanish projects related to new food models, all highlighting different challenges.

In Spain, governance is being built, while French food systems are looking for solutions to change scale. But in both countries, accessibility remains the weak link. For Open Food France (OFF), the distance between producer and consumer and the centralisation of distribution channels are at the root of the unsustainability of food systems. Reconnecting the consumer and the farmer on the one hand and decentralising food hubs on the other are the priorities of OFF.

Open Food France (OFF) is a free and co-managed food distribution platform. It participates in the international Open Food Network. In order to give citizens the opportunity to take back control of their food, and to have access to healthy, good, and fair food, OFF proposes to co-construct short and independent circuits. The web platform is both a virtual marketplace and a commercial management tool for operators. It allows to create a personalised shop, to define order periods, to organise the delivery or collection of products, to receive payments… but also to connect to new producers or distributors, to find new buyers, or to share ideas. Four projects of a very diverse nature provide a better understanding of how this type of programme works. The Collectif court-circuit association supports purchasing groups for products from the Vendée region: 450 families are members and self-manage six sales outlets. An Andalusian family business, Suteau Biosol, delivers Spanish organic products to the Nantes region. A Nantes urban ecology association, Ecos, is developing a short, social and solidarity-based circuit project: the MicroMarchés. The Greater Besançon conurbation is setting up a supply platform for local products for the catering industry, Mangeons local au resto. OFF contributes to the reduction of logistic and management costs of these short circuits. By facilitating the massification of the flow of information, it enables the scale of physical flows to be changed.

An open source platform facilitating the connection

From 2014 to 2017, Open Food France (OFF) has been working on two main areas to implement its sustainable food strategy. The first concerns the deployment of the open source platform and its adaptation to the French framework. It is made available to project leaders, in free access. The second consists of federating an ecosystem of actors in order to facilitate the documentation and dissemination of the different food hubs models. The production of documents punctuates the trajectory and progress of the Open Food France project, from the technical notice to the research article. Once they have been put in contact, the platform encourages project leaders to cooperate with each other, particularly in terms of logistics.