In part enabled by the emergence of the Internet, supermarkets are increasingly seeking to supply the value derived desires of their consumers – both offering web-facilitated delivery services and simultaneously in the ‘real world’ including more regional and seasonal produce on their aisles. Not forgetting the recent response to the horsemeat scandal; re-localising and being more transparent about aspects of their supply chain.
Alternative Food Networks (AFN) foster case-specific infrastructure needs through face-to-face connections between consumers and producers. Concurrent to the shifts seen in the conventional food system; across the UK alternative food networks are seeing a spatial shift – progressively extending their taking place beyond the community scale and expanding into the bioregional space. This parallel shift represents a convergence of AFN and Conventional food systems into a hybrid space – a sort of ‘missing middle’ – representing the complex psycho-spatial disconnect between current conventional and alternative food systems and the logistical / supply chain and infrastructure gap that opened-up following the centralisation and rationalisation of the UK food system.
This research takes a multi-modal quantitative approach to examine the ‘fuzzy’ disconnect that is the missing middle; and how convergence across the missing middle space offers opportunities for a transition towards a sustainable UK food sector. It investigates the missing middle not only in terms of the AFN – conventional food system disconnect, but also the need to bridge the logistical / supply chain and infrastructure gaps that make up the missing middle.
Selected Recent Publications:
Rebecca Petzel, Alice-Marie Archer, Rong Fei, Collaboration for sustainability in a networked world, Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, Volume 2, Issue 4, 2010, Pages 6597-6609, ISSN 1877-0428, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.04.070(http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042810011286) Keywords: collaboration; innovation; sustainability; networks; COINs.
Archer. A (2012) Making Aquaponics Accessible. Schumacher Institute Challenge Paper.