Local cheese in the Swiss village of L’Etivaz
Local cheese in the Swiss village of L’Etivaz

A paper based on a study of cheese supply chains in the UK and Switzerland, which was co-written by CCRI researchers, has been published with open access by Sustainability.

It  is derived from research conducted for  the EU 7th Framework Programme project GLAMUR (Global and Local food chain Assessment: a MUltidimensional performance-based approach) for which the CCRI was one of 15 partners, led by Wageningen University. This research ran from 2013 to 2016.

The published paper – “Comparing the Sustainability of Local and Global Food Chains: A Case Study of Cheese Products in Switzerland and the UK” – considers the notion whether local food is more sustainable than food from distant locations and compares local and global food chains in five dimensions of sustainability (environmental, economic, social, ethical and health), covering all stages of the chain. In particular, four cheese supply chains are compared in detail: a local (L’Etivaz) and global (Le Gruyère) case in Switzerland and a local (Single Gloucester) and global (Cheddar) case in the UK.

A multi-dimensional perspective is adopted to compare their sustainability performance. Eight attributes of performance (affordability, creation and distribution of added value, information and communication, consumer behaviour, resource use, biodiversity, nutrition and animal welfare) are used to frame the comparative analysis.

The results of the research suggest that local cheese performs better in the field of added value creation and distribution, animal welfare and biodiversity. Global chains, by contrast, perform better in terms of affordability and efficiency and some environmental indicators. This analysis needed to be expressed in qualitative terms rather than quantified indicators and it has been especially useful to identify the critical issues and trade-offs that hinder sustainability at different scales. Cheese supply chains in Switzerland and the UK also often present hybrid arrangements in term of local and global scales.

The paper was written by CCRI’s Dan Keech, Damian Maye and James Kirwan together with Emilia Schmitt from Research Institute for Organic Agriculture (FiBL) in Frick, Switzerland, and Dominique Barjolle from the Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich, Switzerland.

The full reference of the paper is below:

Schmitt , E., Keech, D., Maye, D.M., Barjolle, D. and Kirwan, J. (2016)
Comparing the Sustainability of Local and Global Food Chains: A Case Study of Cheese Products in Switzerland and the UK. Sustainability 2016, 8(5), 419; doi:10.3390/su8050419 (registering DOI)

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L'Eetivaz cheese being made in the traditonal way, in a copper cauldron over an open wood fire
L’Eetivaz cheese being made in the traditonal way, in a copper cauldron over an open wood fire
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