The Joint Research Center of the European Commission has published a study on the place of short supply chains in the distribution of agricultural and food products in the European Union. It provides policy recommendations to potential legislative proposals on the labelling of products under 'local farming and direct sales' as foreseen by the EU Regulation on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs (No 1151/2012).
Short food supply chains are characterised by a minimal number of intermediaries between the producer and the consumer; they include many types of organisation schemes, from community-supported agriculture (where consumers support producers), on-farm direct sales, sales by farmers at the place of consumption (farmers' markets, delivery schemes, etc.) or sales to collective catering systems (schools, hospitals, etc.).
The report, as a result of a literature review, database and case studies, aims at drawing up a number of policy recommendations with regard to a possible labelling scheme. In the analysis, the potential of the rural-urban areas in terms of innovation, dynamism and networking about this matter resoundingly arises.
The study also draws attention to some problems such as the insufficient availability of such products on the market or the cost and organisational barriers to small-scale producers, or the influence of the consumers’ behavior in different areas (e.g. metropolitan areas), etc. These would require solutions around logistics, marketing, and public procurement, and the report suggests that the regulating activity should not be restricted to labelling but should include other policy tools such as financial incentives, exchange of knowledge and skills, food policies or the development of regulatory frameworks.