Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 661–670 | Cite as

The local food movement, public-private partnerships, and food system resiliency

Article

Abstract

Concentration and consolidation in production, distribution, and retailing have arguably reduced the diversity of US food supply and distribution channels, thus introducing vulnerabilities into the food system. This paper addresses the question of what can be done to make the system more resilient to shocks that can disrupt food supplies. We suggest that the interest connected to the local food movement extant in a wide-ranging set of public and private groups, as well as among a widening base of consumers, creates a unique opportunity to strengthen food system resiliency. We specifically focus on the supply and distribution systems of supermarket retailers. Supermarkets are major drivers of the modern food system, with US and global consolidation positioning grocery retailers as both oligopolistic sellers and oligopsonistic buyers of food. We discuss the opportunities and challenges to diversifying supermarket procurement and distribution through localization and suggest that such a shift can be most successful if it is facilitated by public-private partnerships to foster system-level change. We provide an example of one such public-private partnership in the context of the work of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (a collaboration between two North Carolina land grant universities) which has partnered with a regional supermarket chain to facilitate and promote the sourcing of local products. The substantive activities of the partnership—capacity-building training for growers and buyers, networking and peer-learning activities and site tours, support for MBA research teams and undergraduate internships, and piloting and subsequent evaluation of novel distributional techniques—are ones that can be enacted by researchers, instructors, and advocates in partnership with supermarkets and other food businesses to build more resilient systems of food procurement and distribution. Discussion of the project provides tangible examples of how public and private entities holding shared interests in local agriculture can partner as part of a holistic approach to diversifying and strengthening the food system.

Keywords

Food system Local food Resiliency Public-private partnerships Social change Supermarkets University 

References

  1. Allen P, Hinrichs C (2007) Buying into ‘buy local’: engagements of United States local food initiatives. In: Holloway L, Maye D, Kneafsy M (eds) Constructing alternative food geographies: representation and practice. Elsevier, Oxford, p 255Google Scholar
  2. Biles J (2006) Globalization of food retailing and the consequences of Wal-Martization in Mexico. In: Brunn S (ed) Wal-Mart world. Taylor and Rutledge, New York, pp 343–355Google Scholar
  3. Bloom JD (2013) Strategies for a sustainable food system: issues of governance in a corporate-led model of food system localization. Dissertation, The Pennsylvania State UniversityGoogle Scholar
  4. Bloom JD (2014) Subsidizing sustainability: the role of the state and civil society in implementing Wal-Mart’s local produce sourcing program. In: Cahoy DR, Colburn JE (eds) Law and the transition to business sustainability. Springer, pp 57–83Google Scholar
  5. Bloom JD, Hinrichs CC (2011) Moving local food through conventional food system infrastructure: value chain framework comparisons and insights. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 26:13–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brown C (2003) Consumers’ preferences for locally produced food: a study in southeast Missouri. American J of Alternative Agriculture 18(4):213–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Busch L, Bain C (2004) New! Improved? The transformation of the global agrifood system. Rural Sociology 69:321–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Campbell JM (2011) Locally produced food purchasing through retail grocery channels: an evaluation of relevant customer and store environment attributes. University of Tennessee, KnoxvilleGoogle Scholar
  9. Christopherson S (2007) Barriers to “US style” lean retailing: the case of Wal-Mart’s failure in Germany. Journal of Economic Geography 7(4):451–469CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Creamer NG, Dunning RD (2012) Local food systems for a healthy population. North Carolina Medical Journal 73(4):310–313Google Scholar
  11. Curtis J, Creamer NG, Thraves TE (2010) From farm to fork: a guide to building North Carolina’s sustainable local food economy. Center for Environmental Farming Systems, RaleighGoogle Scholar
  12. Darby B, Batte M, Ernst S, Roe B (2006) Willingness to pay for locally produced foods: a customer intercept study of direct market and grocery store shoppers. Presented at the American Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting, Long BeachGoogle Scholar
  13. Delind L (2006) Of bodies, place, and culture: re-situating local food. J of Agricultural and Environ Ethics 19:121–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dunning R, Creamer N, Lelekacs JM, O’Sullivan J, Thraves T, Wymore T (2012) Educator and institutional entrepreneur: cooperative extension and the building of localized food systems. J of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development 3(1):99–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Euromonitor, Grocery Retailers in the US (2014) Executive summary. http://www.euromonitor.com/grocery-retailers-in-the-us/report. Accessed 11 Nov 2014
  16. Fearne A, Hughes D (2000) Success factors in the fresh produce supply chain: insights from the UK. British Food J 102(10):760–772CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Feenstra GW (1997) Local food systems and sustainable communities. American J of Alternative Agriculture 12(01):28–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Food Marketing Institute (2012) Grocery shopper trends 2012 executive summaryGoogle Scholar
  19. Freidberg S (2004) The ethical complex of corporate food power. Environ and Plan D: Society and Space 22:513–531CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Friedmann H (2007) Scaling up: bringing public institutions and food service corporations into the project for a local, sustainable food system in Ontario. Agriculture and Human Values 24:389–398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gereffi G (1994) The organization of buyer-driven global commodity chains: how U.S. retailers’ shape overseas production networks. In: Gereffi G, Korzeniewcz M (eds) Commodity chains and global capitalism. Praeger, Westport, pp 95–122Google Scholar
  22. Gereffi G, Christian M (2009) The impacts of Wal-Mart: the rise and consequences of the world’s dominant retailer. Annual Review of Sociology 35(1):573–591CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gereffi G, Lee J (2012) Why the world suddenly cares about global supply chains. J of Supply Chain Management 48(3):24–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Guptill A, Wilkins JL (2002) Buying into the food system: trends in food retailing in the US and implications for local foods. Agriculture and Human Values 19:39–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Guthman J (2004) Agrarian dreams: the paradox of organic farming in California. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  26. Guthman J (2007) The Polanyian way? Voluntary food labels as neoliberal governance. Antipode 39(3):456–478CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gwin L, Thiboumery A (2014) Beyond the farmer and the butcher: institutional entrepreneurship and local meat. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development 4(2):81–96Google Scholar
  28. Harvey M (2007) The rise of supermarkets and asymmetries of economic power. In: Burch D, Lawrence G (eds) Supermarkets and agri-food supply chains: transformation in the production and consumption of foods. Edward Elgar, Cheltenahm, pp 51–73Google Scholar
  29. Henson S, Reardon T (2004) Private agri-food standards: implications for food policy and the agri-food system. Food Policy 30(3):241–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hill WA, Shange R, Robinson M, Hargrove TM (2014) A transformative partnership between socially and historically disadvantaged farmers, 1890 land grant institutions, and Walmart. Professional Agricultural Workers Journal 1(2):2Google Scholar
  31. Hoppe R (2014) Structure and finances of US farms: family farm report. EIB-132. USDA ERSGoogle Scholar
  32. Ilbery B, Maye D (2005) Alternative (shorter) food supply chains and specialist livestock products in the Scottish-English borders. Environ and Plan 37(5):823–844CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Jaffee D, Howard PH (2009) Corporate cooptation of organic and fair trade standards. Agriculture and Human Values 27(4):387–399CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. James H, Hendrickson M, Howard P (2013) Networks, power, and dependency in the agrifood industry. In: James H (ed) The ethics and economics of agrifood competition. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 99–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. King CA (2008) Community resilience and contemporary agri-ecological systems: reconnecting people and food, and people with people. Systems Research and Behavioral Science 25(1):111–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. King RP, Gómez MI, DiGiacomo G (2010) Can local food go mainstream. Choices 25(1). http://www.choicesmagazine.org/magazine/article.php?article=111. Accessed 14 May 2014
  37. Kloppenburg JJ, Hendrickson J, Stevenson GW (1996) Coming into the foodshed. Agriculture and Human Values 13(3):33–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Konefal J, Bain C, Mascarenhas M, Busch L (2007) Supermarkets and supply chains in North America. In: Burch D, Lawrence G (eds) Supermarkets and agri-food supply chains: transformation in the production and consumption of foods. Edward Elgar, Cheltenahm, pp 268–287Google Scholar
  39. Konefal J, Mascarenhas M, Hatanaka M (2005) Governance in the global agro-food system: backlighting the role of transnational supermarket chains. Agriculture and Human Values 22:291–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lawrence G, Burch D (2007) Understanding supermarkets and agri-food supply chains. In: Burch D, Lawrence G (eds) Supermarkets and agri-food supply chains: transformation in the production and consumption of foods. Edward Elgar, Cheltenahm, pp 1–28Google Scholar
  41. Lichtenstein N (2009) The retail revolution: how Wal-Mart created a brave new world of business. Metropolitan Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  42. Moser R, Raffaelli R, Thilmany-McFadden D (2011) Consumer preferences for fruit and vegetables with credence-based attributes: a review. International Food and Agribus Management Review 14(2):121–142Google Scholar
  43. Mount P (2012) Growing local food: scale and local food systems governance. Agriculture and Human Values 29(1):107–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mueller JP, Creamer NG, Barbercheck M, Bell M, Brownie C, Collins A, Zhang W (2006) Long-Term, large-scale systems research directed toward agricultural sustainability. In: Raupp J, Pekrun C, Oltmanns M, Köpke U (eds) Long-term field experiments in organic farming. International Society of Organic Agriculture ResearchGoogle Scholar
  45. North Carolina Growing Together (2013) North Carolina niche meat producers survey 2013. Center for Environmental Farming Systems, Raleigh. http://www.ncgrowingtogether.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/NCGT-NC-Choices-Niche-Meat-Producers-Survey-Summary-Dec-2013.pdf. Accessed 12 May 2014
  46. Ostrom M (2006) Everyday meanings of “local food”: views from home and field. Community Development 37(1):65–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Prevor J (2008, August 28) Digging into Wal-Mart’s “locally grown” numbers. http://www.perishablepundit.com/index.php?date=08/28/08&pundit=1. Accessed 7 Oct 2014
  48. Robinson M, Brown J, Paris A, Hill WA, Hargrove TM, Vaughan B, Turner T (2014) Small farmers agricultural cooperative launched. Professional Agricultural Workers Journal 1(2):5Google Scholar
  49. Sexton RJ (2000) Industrialization and consolidation in the US food sector: implications for competition and welfare. American J of Agricultural Econ 82:1087–1104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Smythe E (2009) In whose interests? Transparency and accountability in the global governance of food: agri-business, the Codex Alimentarius and the World Trade Organization. In: Clapp J, Fuchs D (eds) Corporate power in global agrifood governance. MIT Press, Boston, pp 93–123Google Scholar
  51. Sydorovych O, Raczkowski CW, Wossink A, Mueller JP, Creamer NG, Hu S, Tu C (2009) A technique for assessing environmental impact risks of agricultural systems. Renew Agriculture and Food Systems 24(03):234–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Thilmany D, Bond CA, Bond JK (2008) Going local: exploring consumer behavior and motivations for direct food purchases. American J of Agricultural Econ 90(5):1303–1309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Tu C, Louws FJ, Creamer NG, Mueller J, Brownie C, Fager K, Hu S (2006) Responses of soil microbial biomass and N availability to transition strategies from conventional to organic farming systems. Agriculture, Ecosyst & Environ 113(1):206–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Walmart (2012) GRR—goals in progress/products. http://www.walmartstores.com/sites/responsibility-report/2012/goalsProducts.aspx. Accessed 17 Feb 2013
  55. Walmart (2010) Walmart Unveils Global Sustainable Agriculture Goals http://walmartstores.com/pressroom/news/10376.aspx. Accessed 15 Oct 2010
  56. Wrigley N (2001) The consolidation wave in US food retailing: a European perspective. Agribus 17(4):489–513CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Zhang WJ, Wen-Yi R, Tu C, Diab HG, Louws FJ, Mueller JP, Hu S (2005) Responses of soil microbial community structure and diversity to agricultural deintensification. Pedosphere 15(4)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© AESS 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca Dunning
    • 1
  • J. Dara Bloom
    • 2
  • Nancy Creamer
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Environmental Farming SystemsNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  2. 2.Department of Youth, Family, and Community SciencesNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  3. 3.Center for Environmental Farming SystemsNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

Personalised recommendations