The short supply chain is a specific form of circular economy philosophy in agriculture and food processing which contributes to decreasing the environmental burden of production and consumption. There are considerable differences between the levels of development of these systems in the European Union. The aim of the current manuscript is to clarify the socio-economic causes of this contradiction. Applying the approach of institutional economics, based on expert estimations from ten EU member states using the MACTOR method, the authors have determined the influence-dependence relations between relevant actors, and the actor-goal connections in the socio-economic systems relevant for short supply chains in EU member states. It has been proved that in those new member states under examination which joined the EU in 2004, the considerable cost-efficiency advantages of global supply chains paired with the high level of influence of multinational trade companies are, in most cases, more important factors than sustainable development. The most important steps for the development of short supply chains are: (1) increasing food safety by supporting quality control systems in small scale food processors; (2) stricter control on the competitive behaviour of large-scale trading companies; (3) upgrading the marketing strategy of short supply chain partners. Acknowledgement :


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