The evolutionary perspectives and needs of sustainable food stakeholders
Sectors, complexity and alliances: the main trends perceived
Fondation Daniel et Nina Carasso (FDNC)
For the Daniel & Nina Carasso Foundation, achieving Sustainable Food implies multi-functional and territorialized, agro-ecological and regenerative, diversified and inclusive, circular and low-energy, democratic, transparent and solidarity-based food systems. By analysing the intersections at work between SSE and Sustainable Food, and the needs identified to support the deployment of initiatives, the foundation wishes to contribute to facilitating the change of scale of the solutions known today, and to inscribe in the economic field the values of the citizen transition for which it has been acting for 10 years.
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What are the different evolutions and perspectives identified by the Sustainable Food actors interviewed? What are the points of encounter with the SSE?
Sustainable food actors are at the heart of rapid change, in response to increasingly strong public demands. Moreover, the resources on which they depend (public subsidies, sponsorship, donations, voluntary work) are dwindling from crisis to crisis. In order to respond to strong demand with limited resources, more and more organisations are experimenting with hybrid economic models and modes of governance, in the service of the social and environmental impact they are seeking to generate. They are increasingly encouraged to think about changing the scale of their activities, while preserving their values. From short circuits to cross-channel projects
From short circuits to cross-channel projects
Stakeholders’ point of view
Several major developments are mentioned simultaneously:
A first movement of « shortening » :
flows (short circuits, local products, etc.),
decisions (bringing together consumers and producers, emergence of consumer movements),
All of this is part of a territory, a living space that brings people together, a common good to be managed/developed & preserved collectively.
A second stage towards the construction of increasingly territorialized sectors:
The challenge of linking new functions (processing / distribution),
and recreating and developing processing tools.
A third stage is currently perceptible around the organisation of inter-sectors:
at the territorial level: linked to the need for processing or logistics tools to reach a critical size to ensure their viability,
and at the level of agricultural plots: with the search for ways to enhance the value of the various products resulting from crop rotation (with, for example, for Pain et Partage, the observation that wheat represents 20% of production and that outlets need to be found for the rest of the crops: soya, alfalfa, chickpeas, lentils, etc., in order to stabilise the sector)
The Foundation’s point of view
In response to the various reconnections sought by citizens (geographical, economic, political, cognitive, social), a local food economy is being redeveloped in the territories, in particular to supply cities with fresh, local, quality products. Although it does not currently involve the major sectors, this reconfiguration seems to constitute a fundamental movement destined to develop. But proximity is not synonymous with sustainability. The SSE provides new tools and modes of action to strengthen the socio-economic sustainability of local sectors, offering successful experiences in terms of inclusion and insertion or shared governance and mutualisation of economic tools (particularly in terms of processing and logistics). These advances make it possible to conceive of facilities as common goods at the service of local stakeholders, managed collectively by and for them. These are new alliances between local actors that are embodied in an economy aiming at sustainability. These innovative socio-economic models are opportunities to design sustainable local supply chains that contribute fully to the agricultural and food transition.
These major trends correspond to an ongoing evolution of the economic models underlying food systems. While they constitute a basic trend encouraged by public policies, they are integrated into other more or less rapid developments, in particular the greening of production methods, the diversification of the profile of farmers (collective and off-farm installations in particular) and the typology of farms with an increased search for autonomy, the development of urban agriculture, the diversification of short and local food circuit models, the growing mobilisation of citizen-consumers whose expectations in terms of sustainability are increasingly assertive, and the evolution of food practices.
The growing complexity of projects
As the subject of sustainable food « matures » and the actors in the sector gain experience, we are witnessing the emergence of requirements that are both new and cumulative, with the SSE Lab pointing out, for example, the emergence of the « food/health/environment » triptych, coupled with questions of social justice… and this is causing a general movement of project complexity in the positive sense of the term (cf. Edgar Morin’s complex thinking), of a systemic and integrated approach…
Alliances with traditional food actors
One of the issues pointed out by several actors is the rapprochement with the « traditional » economic world:
Terre de Liens thus mentions its strategy of setting up a pool of militant companies alongside it,
Others mention a major absentee, namely mass retailing, as rare collaborations have been observed with this key and ambivalent player, as it is both part of the problems and future solutions.
It should be noted that this theme of « rapprochement with traditional businesses » is one of the recurring themes that runs through the SSE.
2 examples to illustrate
ATIS - Association Territoire et Innovation Sociale (Gironde, New Aquitaine region, France)
This catalyst for social innovation supports the emergence and development of social enterprises in the New Aquitaine region: it targets projects with a strong social impact, which are economically sustainable and create jobs. The association manages and brings together several mechanisms such as the Fabrique à Initiatives, an incubator, the regional DLA (in co-sponsorship), and the territorial start-up approach. It is a relay structure for the « La France S’engage » Foundation… In 2020, the call for applications launched to select five projects in Gironde to be incubated focuses on the theme of Sustainable Food, in a context in which
the association is solicited by numerous projects concerning the fight against food waste, food insecurity, new distribution methods (bulk, amap, cooperative supermarkets, etc.) and more recently processing tools (vegetable processing, canning) and logistics with flow consolidation platforms,
It does not intervene much in production activities (agricultural incubator, access to land, marketing of short circuits, etc.) which are supported by more specialised resource players such as the Chamber of Agriculture, Réseau Bio, etc., and is considering how to build support that combines agricultural approaches and SSE dynamics,
The requests come from local authorities, specialised actors (such as MIN or the network against food waste) and some more citizen requests,
Two main types of supported projects emerge:
Transformation projects, which require significant investments, with private investors who may be wary of SSE models such as SCICs, which are not well known and therefore not very reassuring,
Conversely, more citizen-based projects that may have difficulty understanding and building their economic model, and investing in the issue of marketing.
Agri Court (Drôme, Auvergne - Rhône-Alpes region, France)
Agri Court is an association that aims to bring together all the stakeholders in distribution (producers, catering professionals, citizens) as well as local authorities to implement supply solutions adapted to the constraints of each. Located in the Val de Drôme ECOSITE’s organic cluster, its mission is to
to propose solutions for local supply: to provide products of quality and character at a fair price for producers and consumers and to make these products accessible to the whole territory,
to enable exchanges between consumers and producers: to develop social links and encourage dialogue, to favour farms on a human scale, oriented or willing to be oriented towards short circuits,
to promote the development of sustainable agriculture: to encourage producers to move towards certified agricultural practices, in particular Organic Agriculture.
The structure claims several roles:
to be a pioneer and to prove that it is possible, with a successive demonstration by stage: organic supply, then local, then fair trade…,
As an eminently economic player, it also claims to be a tool at the service of the territory and the general interest.