Myriam from Open Food France has published an article on Medium re distribution models for local food. See original here:
A translation of later version is provided in full below. Unfortunately we don't have translation of the tables. Myriam has started to translate the source table to English which can be found here] but its work-in-progress
Short Circuits: A variety of models for food resilience
In France, and in many countries, short circuits are booming, individuals become aware of the stakes and impacts of their consumer actions:
* Impact on their health: nothing more healthy and nourishing than a fruit harvested at maturity and cultivated in a natural way.
* Impacts on food security: a city like London has only 3 days of self-sufficiency in the event of oil breakdown. Only 2% of city food is produced locally, and 98% of what is produced is exported (source: Cabinet Utopies study 2017).
* Impacts on economic dynamism: the multiplication of economic exchanges on the same territory is a factor of development and employment.
With double-digit growth rates over the past 10 years, the local food sector is growing, through multiple initiatives and models. Different actors are experiencing multiple ways of organizing exchanges in short circuits, with various operational and economic models. Beyond the famous AMAP and "Hives", there are many models of buying groups, cooperative grocery stores, central purchasing companies, independent distributors, organizing sales / purchases in short circuit. But it is impossible today to give a full account of this sector, many initiatives being organized in an informal way and not federated into networks and therefore not producing statistics.
A variety of models
Through the Open Food Network, and in particular in France, Open Food France, we have the chance to accompany and equip operators of short circuits with varied models. This led us to initiate a first level of comparative study of the models implemented, with the idea of then being able to build tools to accompany the project promoters and help them choose (and hack) the models that seem the most Adapted to their situation. The idea is also to highlight organizational models with little publicity, yet very effective, creating jobs on the territories, and making local food accessible to all.
We wish to introduce this term to designate under the same generic name the set of "nodes" used to connect producers and consumers, ie all short circuit operators. The hub is the actor that supports the organization of orders / sales and delivery to the customer. It has a distribution activity. According to the models, the food hub can be a producer itself if it manages the distribution on line, a group of producers for example in the case of a farmer drive, a group of buyers in the case of a grouping Purchaser, or an external intermediary not managed by producers or eaters.
Together with Raphaelle Delporte, a contributor to the Open Food Network, we worked on a first framework for analyzing stakeholders, above all to enable us to better understand the organization of the sector in order to better support project promoters. This first classification is certainly debatable, and we publish it as it is with a will to iterate collectively to improve the model with all the actors involved. We identified four major families of short circuits:
1- Direct sales
Here no intermediaries or groups. Each producer directly manages the sale of its own products, and only its products. This model allows the producer to keep the entire margin, while offering very cheap products to the eaters. In our experience, this model works but also has limitations, mainly because the eaters often wish to be able to buy a variety of products in one place, which is difficult in pure direct sales, without pooling different catalogs produced.
In the case of bundling, several producers decide to distribute their products together, thus offering a greater variety of choices, and potentially larger volumes, thus meeting the demands of the eaters, but also of processors or group restaurants. The producers thus organized can also share a part of the logistical and marketing costs. Here, the producer collective constitutes the food hub.
3- Group purchase
Another large family of short circuits concerns group purchases. This is for buyers to come together to select suppliers and negotiate purchasing terms, due to the large volumes ordered. Often, individuals grouped in a purchasing group can benefit from the same purchasing conditions as a professional, such as a boutique. The products can be 20 to 50% cheaper, which enhances the accessibility of organic / local products for all. The buyers organized together constitute the food hub.
4- Direct intermediated sales
Finally, we have grouped together within the last family the external intermediaries who make the link between consumers and producers. The intermediary is governed and organized neither by the producers nor by the purchasers, but by a third party entity. Organization, marketing and logistics are managed by this third party who then plays this role of hub.
Often hybrid models
In most cases, an operator will be straddling several distribution models, which it operates in parallel. For example, a local organic producer sells on the market its own production, but also the products of farms and artisans of its territory. In addition, he buys organic citrus fruits from wholesalers in Rungis and resells them on his stand. In this case, it is both on the direct sales / mobile sales activity on stand and on the intermediate direct sales / grocery - primeur activity, with a buying and selling activity both with local producers and a wholesaler. Another example is the boundary between sales and group purchases, and models are often hybrid, for example, in a cooperative of producers and buyers (eaters, processors, etc.). Micromarché in Nantes organizes both purchasing groups in several districts of the city, and runs a micro-grocery / café-bar-restaurant, thus acting as an intermediary on a buying-resale model in short circuit .
Different models, different impacts
These different organizational models have of course different impacts on the ecosystem of actors, from the environmental, social and economic point of view.
1- Economic Impacts
Most of these models aim to improve the income level of the producer, who when selling in short circuit, better values his products and his work. Provided of course that it correctly calculates its cost price and includes all the logistical costs, which is not always the case. In some models, however, the food hub may be a source of job creation, or additional income for hub pilots, as in the case of Alter-conso in Lyon, for example, or "Hives". Most (but not all!) Of these hubs allow members to access local organic products at much higher prices than traditional distribution channels, thus saving money and strengthening Accessibility of local products, as in the example of the Collectif Court Circuit.
2- Environmental impacts
By reconnecting producers and eaters, food hubs also develop the sphere of influence of the eaters: short circuits are often accompanied by conversion to organic, or at least practices that minimize the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. They also offer new opportunities for organic producers, thus supporting the installation of new producers. On the other hand, short circuits are criticized for their potentially negative impact on the environment with respect to CO2 emissions: a study by ADEME shows paradoxically that the number of km per calorie may be higher than the centralized Because many actors are going to make multiple short-distance journeys with unfilled vehicles.
3- Social Impacts
Hub models have more or less community-based approaches, and modes of governance more or less involving stakeholders. But some develop models that really recreate moments of conviviality, sharing and co-construction in neighborhoods and buildings, such as the shopping group Panier Rusé in Lille, which organizes knowledge-sharing workshops, Manufacture of household products, or the association VRAC (Towards a Purchasing Network) which aims to develop purchasing groups in disadvantaged neighborhoods in Lyon. The social impact of hubs also affects the social protection of producers. AMAP, for example, goes further on social protection of the producer by introducing a principle of risk sharing. When we know that a farmer commits suicide every two days in France, short circuits also contribute to curb this phenomenon by improving the economic situation of producers.
After this first level of analysis, we need to go further, study in depth the economic and organizational models, document them and, from this work, develop tools for accompanying and spinning. Notice to those who want to join their strength, contact us!