Making food chains sustainable - a project with an international perspective

06.02.2024 - In the "Co-SFSC" project, an international research team is investigating how global food supply chains can be transformed more sustainably together.

Das Team des KAT
Wanda Wieczorek, Janine Schwienke, Eva Wendeberg,
Sarah Meyer-Soylu, Sandra Schmidt, Pia Laborgne, Hanna Pfeifer

From A for avocado to Z for cinnamon - much of our food travels long distances, is integrated into complex trade chains and is closely interwoven with political structures. Many components of these food chains are neither environmentally friendly nor socially just. For this reason, considerable efforts are already being made to transform food supply chains towards sustainability. Cooperative business models, such as cooperatives, are proving to be an effective form of organization for implementing reasonable prices, ecologically sensitive cultivation methods and safety standards for workers. Nevertheless, there has been little empirical, comparative research on how sustainable food supply chains can be implemented through cooperative models.

Evaluating and developing sustainable structures

A total of six teams from Turkey, Thailand, Taiwan, Sweden, Germany and the USA are working on the project. The international research team is currently assessing food supply structures, including supporting ecosystems such as policy, financing and education. The aim is to create sustainable structures through transdisciplinary research, innovation and transfer. The focus is on cooperative business and governance models in different socio-cultural and political contexts.

The project combines these components in its title "Co-Creation of sustainable transformations of food supply chains through cooperative business models and governance ", in short: Co-SFSC. The aim of the project is to gain empirically supported insights into the transformation of food supply chains towards sustainability through cooperative action.

International exchange with researchers and practice partners

"We all have such different expertise, contacts and experience that we can learn a lot from each other," says project manager and KAT employee Pia Laborgne, describing the team. "Our goal for the collaboration is an intensive exchange, both between the researchers and with our various partners from the field."

At each location - the so-called "hubs" - the teams pursue a slightly different focus, which has been chosen together with the local practice partners. From knowledge and visions to concrete plans and experiments, the hubs are developing different approaches on how to transform and strengthen food supply chains in their region.

For the team from Germany, the focus is on sustainable supply chains for sunflower oil, pulses and processed fruit and vegetable products. "On the one hand, we are asking ourselves how cooperative food businesses can be supported by transdisciplinary research and how governance and financing models should change," summarizes Laborgne. "On the other hand, we want to know how these companies can use their position in the market to drive the development of sustainable food supply chains."

Pia Laborgne
Pia Laborgne

Overall, the project has a transformative focus. This means that the researchers want to describe and explain the current situation on the one hand and actively work towards establishing sustainable practices on the other. The collaboration between research and practice is intended to ensure that sustainable and effective strategies are developed that can serve as a model for future developments.

Key data at a glance

  • Project duration: 2023 - 2026
  • Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG)
  • Project partners: Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Germany; KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden; Feng Chia University, Taiwan; Ubon Ratchathani University, Thailand; Mahidol University, Thailand; Chulalongkorn University, Thailand; Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Initiative (SCORAI), USA; Middle East Technical University, Turkey; Boğaziçi University, Turkey

The Karlsruhe Transformation Center for Sustainability and Cultural Change is involved in the project primarily as overall coordinator and as coordinator of the sustainability assessment work package.

Fünf Hubs des Projekts Co-SFSC
Fünf Hubs

Learn more

Further information can be found on the official project website and in the project description of the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS).

Logo Co-SFSC