CERES Fair Food, an organic food delivery system in Melbourne, VIC was evaluated in terms of its transportation resource consumption, ability to enhance food security, and support of local organic farmers, which are key factors in sustainable food systems for urban areas.
Transportation resource consumption was analyzed by calculating the food miles for a selection of Fair Food’s products and comparing them to data on typical products consumed in Victoria. Most of Fair Food’s products had similar or lower food miles, particularly the fresh produce. But many assumptions had to be made in the calculations due to limited information. Food miles also reflect only a portion of the resource consumption and environmental impact in the lifecycle of a food product, so it is not so useful as a communication tool for the public.
The ability to enhance food security in Melbourne was assessed by a comparison of costs for purchasing a Victorian Healthy Food Basket at different food retailers. Fair Food was similarly priced or more expensive than both organic and non-organic food competitors, although because it has multiple Food Hosts it can deliver organic foods to less affluent neighborhoods where there may not be organic retailers or supermarkets.
Support of local, organic farmers was evaluated by looking at Fair Food’s practices for paying farmers. Fair Food marked-up its retail prices 80% from the wholesale price it paid to farmers, whereas major retailers have been known to mark-up prices as much as 120% and largely dictate the price at which they will buy produce at.
Overall, Fair Food is supportive of a sustainable food production system according to these examined key factors. It is still a young organization though and will need to work on making its products accessible to a wider range of consumers.
Agribusiness | Agricultural and Resource Economics | Civic and Community Engagement | Food Processing | Sustainability
Chung, Stella, "Evaluating CERES Fair Food as an Urban Sustainable Food Initiative: A Comparison of Retail Pricing, Wholesale Pricing and Food Miles for a Healthy Food Basket" (2012). Independent Study Project (ISP) Collection. 1269.