The evolutionary perspectives and needs of sustainable food stakeholders

Sectors, complexity and alliances: the main trends perceived

December 2020

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 » :

A second stage towards the construction of increasingly territorialized sectors:

A third stage is currently perceptible around the organisation of inter-sectors:

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:

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

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

The structure claims several roles:


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