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The EU-funded project SMARTCHAIN hosts today its closing event, showcasing its main findings and recommendations to support collaborative Short Food Supply Chains (SFSCs) in Europe. The 3-year long project brought together a wide range of policymakers, practitioners and researchers interested in learning more on collaborative SFSCs and how to support their growth. SFSCs are food systems with a potential to create a shift in the way we grow, distribute and consume food, responding to the needs of farmers, food producers and consumers.

SMARTCHAIN’s main findings will spur further initiatives aimed at changing the European food supply chain model have been collected in its booklet “Insights & recommendations to support collaborative Short Food Supply Chains.

A thorough analysis of different types of SFSCs across Europe, such as on-farm direct sales, farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture and cooperatives, and their regulatory frameworks, led to the formulation of policy and business recommendations in the agri-food sector.

Dr. F. Javier Casado Hebrard from the University of Hohenheim, SMARTCHAIN project manager, said:

During 3 years of intense work, SMARTCHAIN analysed 18 Short Food Supply Chains from 9 different countries to understand the factors that play a role in their success, but also to identify their main needs, barriers and bottlenecks, with a focus on the consumer’s perspective. In the SMARTCHAIN booklet, farmers, food producers and other SFSCs practitioners can find applicable solutions, recommendations and useful tips to improve business performance while increasing sustainability. We also developed a series of actionable policy recommendations for decision-makers to support SFSCs and their competitiveness”.

Thanks to the identification of the key parameters that influence sustainable food production and rural development in the different European regions, SMARTCHAIN laid out the crucial factors that play an essential role for SFSCs businesses, leading to the identification of the main success factors and also bottlenecks for their development and exploitation. These solutions can enhance competitiveness in the form of economic growth, logistic improvements and the creation of new sales channels.


The SMARTCHAIN guide also features a focus on social innovations for SFSCs and an assessment of their sustainability from an economic, environmental and social perspective. Additionally, it presents the results from an analysis on the value perception and attitudes of consumers towards SFSCs and provides suggestions on how to reach greater acceptance of this type of supply chain.


  • 9:00-9:05 Welcome (Susanne Braun, University of Hohenheim)
  • 9:05-9:15 EU policy and R&I on sustainable food value chains (Natalia Brzezina, DG AGRI)
  • 9:15-9:25 Overall monitoring of SMARTCHAIN’s implementation (Ivana Oceano, European Research Executive Agency (REA))
  • 9:25-9:40 SMARTCHAIN: an overview (F° Javier Casado, University of Hohenheim)
  • 9:40-10:30 SMARTCHAIN: main results & recommendations (Part I)
    • Tech & non-tech. innovations (András Sebök, Campden)
    • Social innovations (Eugenia Petropoulou, University of Crete)
    • Food-related consumer behaviors (Verena Hüttl-Maack, University of Hohenheim)
  • 10:30-10:45 Break
  • 10:45-11:35 SMARTCHAIN: main results & recommendations (Part II)
    • Integrative sustainability assessment (Jens Lansche, Agroscope)
    • Innovation Platform (Katherine Flynn, IFA) & Short Food Supply EU Community (Mark Frederiks, AMPED)
    • Business recommendations (Eduardo Puertolas, AZTI)
  • 11:35-12:20 SMARTCHAIN: policy recommendations (Silvana Nicola, University of Torino)
  • 12:20-12:35 SMARTCHAIN: impact & roadmap (Louise Méhauden, Innogestiona Ambiental)
  • 12:35-12:45 Closing remarks (Susanne Braun, University of Hohenheim)

During the conference, our colleague Louise Méhauden presented Innogestiona’s contributions to the Work Package 5 “Integrative susteinability assessment”, dedicated to the analysis of the environmental and socioeconomic sustainability of the SFSCs as well as the work related to the project Roadmap, which develops the SWOT of the SFSCs transforming it into a list of needs for the stakeholders, and translating it into a concrete policy instruments proposal.

Download the presentation SMARTCHAIN: impact & roadmap (Louise Méhauden, Innogestiona Ambiental)

Download the presentation of the collaborative work en el WP5 “Integrative susteinability assessment”


The main task of Innogestiona Ambiental in the project has been the impact assessment of the project, which includes the elaboration of a roadmap to maximize the repercussions of its results and conclusions in the long term. On the other hand, we have had an active participation in the Work Package (WP) 5 “Integrative susteinability assessment”, dedicated to the analysis of the environmental and socioeconomic sustainability of the CCSA, led by Agroscope (Switzerland)

Our contributions in this WP5 have focused mainly on the most qualitative aspects of socio-economic sustainability, compiling the perceptions of producers from nine European countries about their motivations when it comes to getting involved in this business model type, and the benefits they obtain at a personal level (self-esteem, quality of life, interest in job, empowerment, etc.), social (integration into the community, relationship with customers, social recognition, etc.), and commercial /economic (prices and salary, business resilience, etc.).

We have also participated in the WP7 “Business and policy recommendations” led by AZTI (Spain) developing these policy and business model recommendations.

Our involvement in the different project actions, our own data collection (questionnaires, focus groups, interviews, literature, etc.) and our collaboration with other WP and partners, has provided us the information and the space for reflection to define what is really needed to create the conditions in which the CCSA can be developed in an optimal and sustainable way, face to the Roadmap elaboration that aims to maximize the impact of the project and make its recommendations as concrete as possible

This Roadmap offers a first contextualization of the starting situation, the elaboration of SWOT analysis and then focus on the barriers and problems that hinder the development and sustainability (environmental, social and economic) of the CCSA. These difficulties correspond to specific needs which are translated into recommendations, both for the economic actors in the sector and for the policymakers. The ultimate aim of the Roadmap is to put these recommendations in perspective with the current political-legal context (strategies, policies and key regulations), and, within this framework, to propose a series of policy instruments to make them concrete.


SFSCs are food systems with a potential to respond to some of the main needs and opportunities of farmers, food producers and consumers. They can bring many advantages compared to conventional longer food chains, for example the short distance between production and consumption, the access to locally produced food of known origin, and the support of the local economy.

SMARTCHAIN’s 43 partners coming from 11 European countries worked for 3 years to support the shift towards collaborative SFSCs by linking scientists with practitioners and different actors in the sector. SMARTCHAIN project “Towards Innovation – driven and smart solutions in short food supply chains” was coordinated by the University of Hohenheim and received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and Innovation programme under grant agreement No. 773785.


SMARTCHAIN partners launched an Innovation Platform to facilitate knowledge, innovative solutions and know-how transfer among leading actors with the common goal of making a difference in the SFSCs’ game. The SMARTCHAIN booklet will also be soon available on the Platform in nine languages: Dutch, French, English, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Serbian and Spanish.

The SMARTCHAIN Innovation Platform, one of the main outcomes of the project, will remain accessible thanks to the decision of 5 new Horizon 2020 projects to keep using and updating it in the coming years. An overview of the content and materials SMARTCHAIN partners shared on the platform is also available in the booklet.


The central objective of the SMARTCHAIN Project is to foster and accelerate the shift towards collaborative short food supply chains (SFSC) and, through specific actions and recommendations, to introduce new robust business models and innovative practical solutions that enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of the European agri-food system.

The SMARTCHAIN Innovation Platform facilitates knowledge, innovative practical solutions and know-how transfer. Particularly, the Platform aims to:

  • Generate, share and utilize information on suitable innovations;
  • Engage stakeholders in the SFSC sector;
  • Disseminate SFSC innovation and cooperation events;
  • Organize training activities and generate training materials on best practices in innovation;
  • Build an international community through a short food supply chain game.

After the official end of the SMARTCHAIN project (31/08/21), 5 new H2020 projects (CO-FRESHFAIRCHAIN, PLOUTOS, LOWINFOOD and FOODRUS will continue the maintenance and growth of this Innovation Platform with their results, findings, and contributions. These projects work to increase the competitiveness and sustainability of agri-food value chains through innovations, new approaches and effective ways to reduce food losses and waste. Stay connected to the Innovation Platform to keep up with all of the latest on innovative food systems!


In SMARTCHAIN your voice is very important. For that reason, a short online questionnaire has been developed to evaluate the quality of SMARTCHAIN website and innovation platform, as it is done also for every activity and event of the project. Indeed, we want to make sure that they meet the needs of short food supply chains’ stakeholders. The results of this query will help us to adjust the contents and formats of our actions. It will take only 5 minutes to fill in this form, and this will help us improve our Platform. Thank you very much for your collaboration!

The questionnaire can be answered in 9 languages here:


Patricia Mora, CEO of Innogestiona Ambiental, participated today April 13, 2021 in the online seminar “Healthy soils for Europe: sustainable management through knowledge and practice” organized by the European Innovation Partnership on Agricultural Productivity & Sustainability (EIP-AGRI). The overall aim of the seminar is to raise awareness and address practical soil management challenges and solutions to enhance soil health.

Patricia Mora’s contribution has been realized in a panel discussion with farmers and advisers involved in soil health initiatives, such as the European LIFE Live Adapt project, in which Innogestiona Ambiental participates as a partner and which Patricia Mora has represented in the seminar. Patricia has talked about soil resilience and climate change and, above all, the need for specific advice and training for farmers on techniques for adapting extensive livestock to climate change, taking as reference some of the innovative actions that are being developed within the framework of the Live Adapt.

Healthy soils are fundamental to the sustainable production of food, feed and fibre. In addition, healthy soils provide many other functions that contribute to human well-being such as water filtering, carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling and biodiversity conservation. Soil health is affected by unsustainable management practices. These include frequent tillage, which accelerates soil organic matter loss, incorrect use of agrochemicals, which leads to soil and water pollution, and irrigation practices causing salinisation problems.

Climate change may also affect soils in different ways. More frequent heavy rainfalls and drought periods can increase erosion, nutrient and pollutant leaching, soil carbon losses and soil salinisation. On the positive side, practices improving soil health can mitigate or even reverse these negative effects, including the impacts of climate change.

This interactive event is dedicated to exchanging practical solutions to soil health problems, and discussing what needs to be done for farms to take them up. The specific objectives of the seminar are:

  • Raise awareness of the importance of soil health and introduce various EU initiatives undertaken to preserve it, such as  European Joint Programme SOIL y and the proposed EU mission “Caring for Soil is Caring for Life”.
  • Promote and build upon the results and outcomes of past EIP-AGRI networking activities such as Focus Groups on soil-related issues and relevant workshops.
  • Share experiences and good practices to maintain soil health, identified by relevant projects, research activities and farmers.
  • Identify synergies between different types of projects working on soil health and encourage further cooperation among participants through networking.
  • Discuss challenges and solutions for soil health and identify what is needed to make these solutions operational for farmers, foresters and other land managers, and make them widely used/adopted.

And all, in the frame of a new public consultation on the EU Soil Strategy launched seeking input on challenges and opportunities regarding land and soil ecosystems which deliver such valuable services such as the provision of food and carbon sequestration.

Download the Seminar Programme.