Local and Sustainable Food Supply: The Role of European Retail Consumer Co-operatives

This paper investigates the rationale for local and sustainable food systems and retailer co-operatives as their entry points within local conditions. Emphasis is on localised food networks and connection between socially as well as environmentally sustainable production, distribution and consumption. Investigated is the premise that co-operative organisational structures, for reasons of their long-term socially responsible origins are at the forefront of development of local and sustainable food systems and are thereby in a position to offer a specific contribution to market development. Two key research questions are proposed: Firstly, is there a pre-determination of co-operatives to issues of sustainable and local food sourcing given the historical and practical context of their ethical/socially responsible and stakeholder-based business model? Secondly, do co-ops express support for re-localising food systems and what contribution do they make concerning sustainable food and their relationships with local food suppliers? The method of investigation is through a two country retailer co-operative sector analysis and comparison (Finland and Italy). The enquiry is qualitative and exploratory in nature in the form of an embedded, multiple case design. The paper makes practical and theoretical contribution to knowledge concerning interpretation of ‘localness’ in food, the role of co-operatives and the co-operative ethos in sustainable food systems and the development of the local food economy. Results of the study show a positive relationship between co-operative ethos and (social) sustainability in local food, but the de-centralised nature of retailer co-operation also provides a barrier to replication of good practice.


Editor(s):
Schiefer, Gerhard
Fritz, Melanie
Issue Date:
2012-03
Publication Type:
Journal Article
DOI and Other Identifiers:
ISSN 1809-6945 (Other)
Record Identifier:
http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/record/121953
PURL Identifier:
http://purl.umn.edu/121953
Published in:
International Journal on Food System Dynamics, Volume 02, Number 4
Page range:
340-356
Total Pages:
17




 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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