How Alternative Food Networks Work in a Metropolitan Area? An Analysis of Solidarity Purchase Groups in Northern Italy – Agricultural and Food Economics – article

How Alternative Food Networks Work in a Metropolitan Area? An Analysis of Solidarity Purchase Groups in Northern Italy

Lucia Baldi, Danilo Bertoni, Giuseppina Migliore, Massimo Peri | Agricultural and Food Economics

2019-11-19

Our paper focuses on Solidarity Purchase Group (SPG) participants located in a highly urbanized area, with the aim to investigate the main motivations underlining their participation in a SPG and provide a characterization of them. To this end, we carried out a survey of 795 participants involved in 125 SPGs in the metropolitan area of Milan (Italy). Taking advantage of a questionnaire with 39 questions, we run a factor analysis and a two-step cluster analysis to identify different profiles of SPG participants. Our results show that the system of values animating metropolitan SPG practitioners does not fully conform to that traditionally attributed to an alternative food network (AFN). In fact, considerations linked to food safety and healthiness prevail on altruistic motives such as environmental sustainability and solidarity toward small producers. Furthermore, metropolitan SPGs do not consider particularly desirable periurban and local food products. Observing the SPGs from this perspective, it emerges as such initiatives can flourish also in those places where the lack of connection with the surrounding territory is counterbalanced by the high motivation to buy products from trusted suppliers who are able to guarantee genuine and safe products, not necessarily located nearby.

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