The food industry is facing considerable sustainability challenges. Production should increase to provide a stable food supply for an increasing population, while the environmental impact of food systems should decrease. The current global and resource-intensive food systems are incapable to deliver sustainable food products. Furthermore, the COVID19 pandemic and war in Ukraine have demonstrated other challenges in the global food systems where large disruptions in the supply chain can lead to shortages of food in countries that don’t have their own production. It is important to increase the degree of self-sufficiency, which is 50% in Sweden, in a sustainable manner.
A solution to obtaining sustainable food systems can be found in the increased use of local food supply chains, where producers and consumers have direct or closest possible relationships. By developing local food supply chains, urban and rural areas are reconnected, employment at local producers can increase, and communities are revitalized by increasing social cohesion as well as strengthening local cultures and identities. Consumers need to obtain more knowledge about the conditions and costs of local agriculture for producers to receive a realistic income, as well as ethical recognition and appreciation for their work and products.
The potential to increase Swedish food production is high, especially connected to local food supply chains. Consumers are becoming more aware of sustainable alternatives and desire closer relationships with producers. To meet the market’s demand and change to sustainable development, more local food chains are needed and those that already exist should be expanded. The fact that this is not happening, despite high demand, signals that there are challenges linked to this that should be studied more thoroughly.