When consumers buy food, their choices impact economies, the environment and the well-being of both humans and animals. The EU-funded project GLAMUR developed a flexible method to assess these impacts to help policymakers achieve a more sustainable food supply.
Our access to food involves networks of businesses – sometimes from our immediate area, sometimes covering much longer distances. Each network has its advantages. Local food supply chains can be better for the environment and regional economies, while global supply chains could cut waste and provide cheap, plentiful food. Which should we support? Or do both have their place?
To help answer these and other questions about food chains’ sustainability, the GLAMUR project developed a flexible method to assess different food supply systems. Designed for use by governments and businesses, the method analyses the economic, environmental, social, health and ethical aspects of systems. Furthermore, it enables users to easily focus on the aspects that matter most to them from a set of frequent stakeholder concerns.
The aim is to help policymakers shape food supply systems so that they are better for people and the world around us. The traditional assessment of a food supply’s performance primarily focuses on low cost and abundance. This needs to be updated to reflect new production and consumption patterns – locally and globally – and new consumer concerns. Covering the whole spectrum of food supply system’s real costs and benefits – including biodiversity and ethics criteria – ensures that nothing is overlooked. It also reveals how local and global chains support each other, correcting the bias towards global supply chains. By analysing food chains using a combination of criteria important to users, the method was designed to limit any unintended consequences from policies that can happen when not everyone affected is consulted.