As shown in the following image, the different parts of the food system include food supply chains, food environments, individual factors and consumer behavior, as well as external factors (factors that drive or drag the system). These different parts shape food systems and can lead to both positive and negative outcomes. The food supply chain includes all the steps necessary to produce and transport food from the field to the table. These steps consist of agricultural production, storage and distribution, processing and packaging, and retail and marketing, among others.
Farmers, processors, wholesalers, shippers and retailers are some of the people involved in food supply chains. Food supply chains operate at different scales and levels, depending on the food system. In rural and isolated communities, food supply chains can be short: farmers and food producers eat food directly or sell it to their neighbors at the local market. .
However, food supply chains are undergoing rapid transformations, especially in low- and middle-income countries, often leading to greater interaction between these environments and urban and rural actors. The categories of food systems developed for this panel highlight the common patterns in food supply chains and food environments that exist in all countries. By comparing these different types of food systems, users can understand the complexity of food systems and begin to identify priority areas of action within their own food systems. In informal and expanding food systems, agricultural productivity is, on average, higher than in rural and traditional food systems.
Medium- and small-scale farms are starting to emerge. Modern food supply chains are common for cereals and other dry foods, with large-scale processors (along with many smaller ones) and centralized distribution centers. Modern fresh food chains are also emerging, although traditional supply chains continue to predominate for these foods due to weak cold chains and inadequate market infrastructure. Food systems play an important role in the well-being of society: they help ensure that all members of society can be as healthy as possible.
Supermarkets (especially in the United Kingdom) respond to consumer concerns; for example, they can participate in setting environmental standards in the supply chain by supplying more sustainable foods, such as organic and fair-trade products. These scenarios illustrate the problems of food insecurity, the impact of industrial livestock operations on communities and occupational hazards, some of the many public health challenges in the food system. The term food system is frequently used in discussions about nutrition, food, health, community economic development and agriculture. The stages of production, processing and distribution of an orange juice supply chain are shown here, the series of steps necessary to get a product to consumers.
Concerns about transparency and traceability have increased due to food safety issues, such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and Escherichia coli (E. A greater proportion of countries in this type of food system have adopted food-based dietary guidelines. The lack of cooling and storage facilities causes large food losses for some crops, which may make producers less likely to diversify into perishable foods. Although the availability of food is not perceived as a major and immediate concern in Europe, the challenge remains to ensure a long-term, safe, nutritious and affordable food supply, both on land and in the oceans.
By modernizing and formalizing food systems, agricultural productivity is generally higher than in emerging, informal and traditional systems. On the other hand, food waste is increasing rapidly and deterioration at the end of the supply chain remains a challenge. The food system encompasses people, activities, inputs, products and the results involved in taking food from seed to plate. The development of food systems dates back to the origins of on-site agriculture and to the production of food surpluses.
These food systems are oriented towards a production model that requires maximizing efficiency to reduce consumption costs and increase overall production, and use economic models such as vertical integration, economic specialization and global trade. .
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