Bridging Gaps: A Framework for Developing Regional Food Systems
Keywords:Alternative Supply Chain, Competitive Advantage Theory, Conventional Supply Chain, Downtown, Framework, Food Delivery, Food Retail, Local Food, Regional Food System, Regional Economy, Porter’s Value Chain
AbstractLocal food research has been generally focused on strengthening the alternative food system by scaling up local agriculture, rather than advancing strategies to bridge gaps between local farmers and conventional food retail businesses. Competitive advantage theory forms the foundation of a framework based on Porter’s (1985) firm (business unit) value chain for investigating food system gaps, and a logic model for promoting development by adding value throughout the alternative food supply chain. In the present study, a survey created jointly by local stakeholders investigated factors that food retail businesses consider when sourcing local food. Among the top rated factors, supporting the local economy (opportunity) and regular delivery (barrier) were seen as significant to the regional food system of the Algoma District in central Canada. Mapping these factors through the firm value chain framework revealed a high degree of interconnectedness to other factors in the survey, including importance of obtaining fresh food, consistency of supply throughout the year, and reducing overall costs of supplying affordable products. Analysis of the survey results from the perspective of a food retail business pointed to information technology and coordinated distribution methods as playing important roles in adding value to the regional food system. In addition to these results, the downtown of the study site has emerged as an aggregation point for local food, and local food may be playing a role in revitalizing the downtown. The value chain framework analysis can be applied to other localities to bridge gaps between local farmers and conventional supply chain actors.
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