SMARTCHAIN (Smart Solutions in Short Food Supply Chains) is an ambitious 3-year project under the Horizon 2020 programme, being developed by a consortium made up of 43 partners in 11 European countries.

Its central objective is to support and accelerate change towards collaborative short food supply chains and, through specific recommendations for action, introduce new business models and innovative practical solutions which boost the competitiveness and sustainability of the food production systems.

But, what is a short chain? The notion of “short chain” is understood to refer to shorter distances between producer and consumer, to improve the transparency, efficiency and sustainability of food supply chains, by reducing the number of intermediaries and putting the producer in a stronger position within the value chain.

Using “bottom-up”, demand-driven research, the SMARTCHAIN consortium will i) analyse 18 case studies of short food supply chains from multiple perspectives, in terms of technological, regulatory, social, economic and environmental factors; ii) evaluate the links and interactions between all stakeholders involved in short food supply chains; and iii) identify the key parameters that impinge on sustainable food production and rural development in different regions of Europe.

Thus, the project establishes 9 national short food supply chain communities (innovation and collaboration centres) in different member countries (France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Serbia, Spain and Switzerland) and a virtual innovation centre to facilitate the participation of stakeholders, bringing together farmers and consumers in a spirit of trust to create an atmosphere in which they can generate demand-driven innovations.

The combination of scientific and practical knowledge, and the innovation workshops held, will allow the development of innovative practical solutions, as well as promoting a framework for different types of collaborative short supply chains in urban and rural areas.

SMARTCHAIN will yield specific knowledge transfer actions, by organising workshops with a variety of stakeholders and training activities in short food supply chains for farmers and entrepreneurs.