Local food and short food supply chains are in the centre of attention among consumers, NGOs as well as policy makers. These systems have long tradition the US and Western Europe; they have been spreading in Hungary, too. The main purpose of this study is to review the international literature on short food supply chains and their impacts, and to generally display and discuss the lessons learnt about types that have already appeared in Hungary. The term short food supply chain (SFSC) covers a broad range of marketing channels. In general, small geographical, social, cultural distance between producers and consumers is typical, and also, demand for environmentally friendly production methods is often an important aspect. Consumers of SFSCs are usually more highly educated than the average. Traditional forms such as farmers' markets are typically visited by elder people; while novel, unusual types (like community supported agriculture or web-based value chains) attract the young. As for the producers' side, a characteristic group of farmers participate (especially in case of non-traditional SFSCs) who are innovative, open to the new marketing methods and also have good practical skills (and courage). SFSCs are expected to solve several sustainability-related problems; however, it is not always possible to provide clear scientific evidence about their positive environmental, social or economic impact. In some cases the traditional food supply chains may prove to be more rational (cheaper, environmentally more beneficial). To summarize, due to the heterogeneity and context-dependency of SFSCs, there is probably no generally preferable "good" or "worthy for supporting" solution, but the current situation and local environment should be carefully evaluated.
Local food system farmers' market community supported agriculture rural development sustainable development