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Consumer Renaissance in Alternative Agri-Food Networks Between Collective Action and Co-Production

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Sacchi, Giovanna; Stefani, Gianluca; Romano, Donato; Nocella, Giuseppe
Journal: Sustainable Production and Consumption
Volume: 32
Page(s): 311-327
Date: 2022
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/10823
Sector: Urban Commons
Region: Europe
Subject(s): coproduction
collective action
Abstract: "In recent years, a dramatic increase in Alternative Agri-Food Networks (AAFNs) has been interpreted by experts of the sector as triggered by innovative food supply chains capable to reconnect producers with consumers. Simultaneously, the worldwide growth of consumers’ initiatives towards AAFNs is reducing the distance with producers shortening the supply chain and enhancing its value added. Examples of these consumers’ experiences have been reported in Japan, Europe, the USA, and Canada, and differ according to the degree of participants’ commitment to the logistics and the management of the initiatives. In general terms, these experiences could represent instances of co-production practices involving thousands of citizens who are seeking quality, sustainable, healthy, and ethical products and services reducing the uncertainty of food credence attributes. In this framework, the overall objective of this paper is to contribute to the scanty literature on food associations and cooperatives co-producing private goods with citizens contributing to marketing services such as procurement, storage, pricing, and quality assurance. Specifically, the focus is on the experience of Camilla, a food consumption cooperative that recently established an outlet to stock and sell food and non-food quality goods in Bologna (Italy). Camilla is the first Italian experience of a shop self-managed by its customers - who are also the owners - who practice critical consumption by supplying organic products at fair and sustainable prices while promoting small local productions as well as Fair Trade products. A deep, participatory, and immersive ethnographic project was carried out between January and October 2019 to understand the functioning, the motivations and the drivers underpinning the process of citizens’ self-organisation in the domain of the food sector. Results provide useful insights on the way in which these innovative AAFNs are organised and on the reasons pushing people to join these initiatives. Key questions emerging from outcomes of the Camilla case study are discussed from an empirical and theoretical point of view."

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