The sustainability debate in the food sector has exposed the current food system to critics, encouraging the significant growth of Alternative Food Networks (AFNs), new ways of food production, distribution and consumption that aim to shorten the food chain. Our study is focused on Food Assembly (FA), a special kind of AFN combining the culture of social entrepreneurship and digital innovation to achieve sustainability and a high social impact. The coexistence of a digital platform and a weekly farmers’ market triggers, within this network, mechanisms of knowledge sharing and self-organisation. To date, however, few studies have focused simultaneously on online and on-site interactions within AFNs, especially with quantitative studies. Our paper aims to test the hypothesis that online and on-site knowledge sharing affects the success of a FA measured by customer sustainable behaviour change. To do so, we developed a quantitative analysis based on a regression model. We collected data via a questionnaire submitted to 8497 Italian FA customers, of which 2115 responses were included in our analysis. The results show that online knowledge sharing significantly affects customer change towards more sustainable purchasing and consumption behaviours, while on-site knowledge sharing positively affects sustainable purchasing behaviours.

Online and on-site interactions within alternative food networks: Sustainability impact of knowledge-sharing practices

De Bernardi P.;Bertello A.;Venuti F.
2019-01-01

Abstract

The sustainability debate in the food sector has exposed the current food system to critics, encouraging the significant growth of Alternative Food Networks (AFNs), new ways of food production, distribution and consumption that aim to shorten the food chain. Our study is focused on Food Assembly (FA), a special kind of AFN combining the culture of social entrepreneurship and digital innovation to achieve sustainability and a high social impact. The coexistence of a digital platform and a weekly farmers’ market triggers, within this network, mechanisms of knowledge sharing and self-organisation. To date, however, few studies have focused simultaneously on online and on-site interactions within AFNs, especially with quantitative studies. Our paper aims to test the hypothesis that online and on-site knowledge sharing affects the success of a FA measured by customer sustainable behaviour change. To do so, we developed a quantitative analysis based on a regression model. We collected data via a questionnaire submitted to 8497 Italian FA customers, of which 2115 responses were included in our analysis. The results show that online knowledge sharing significantly affects customer change towards more sustainable purchasing and consumption behaviours, while on-site knowledge sharing positively affects sustainable purchasing behaviours.
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http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/11/5/1457
Alternative food network; Behaviour change; Digital platform; Digitalisation; Food assembly; Knowledge sharing; Self-organising community; Social capital; Sustainable development
De Bernardi P.; Bertello A.; Venuti F.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2318/1713050
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