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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Quantifying differences in alternative food network supply chain activities and their relationship with socio-economic outcomes

Hunter, Erik; Norrman, Andreas; Berg, Eva


Alternative food networks (AFNs) have the potential to enhance and redistribute value in favour of producers and consumers through novel ways of organizing supply chain activities. What is more, AFNs are often characterized by their 'sustainability promise' - or the idea that their networks foster social, ecological or environmental improvements over conventional food networks. Based on a purposive sample of 286 producers across five Swedish AFNs (i.e. community supported agriculture, REKO-rings, farmers' markets, farm stores and food nodes), we explore how differences in how supply chain activities are managed and relate them to profitability, fair wages, cooperation, logistics efforts, happiness and future beliefs. Using a combination of correlation analysis, linear regression and means comparisons, we challenge the notion that AFNs achieve their sustainability promise or enhance value through novel combinations of supply chain activities. Our findings include several key differences in how supply chain management (SCM) activities are organized across AFNs and their variant importance for profitability. Moreover, we find significant differences in happiness across AFNs that are better explained through beliefs about the future than profitability or fair wages. By exploring happiness and profitability, we offer insights into why some AFN actors thrive despite poor economic returns.


alternative food networks; logistics; supply chain management; agriculture; happiness

Published in

International Food and Agribusiness Management Review
2021, Volume: 25, number: 1, pages: 83-101

    Sustainable Development Goals

    End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Agricultural Science

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)