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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

A Framework for Developing and Implementing Short Food Supply Chain Strategies

Historically, conventional food supply chains have been prone to various malfunctions, including the unequal distribution of power between supply chain actors, externalisation of environmental and social costs, high levels of food wastage, and eroding planetary boundaries. At the same time, it is anticipated that agricultural output will need to increase by as much as 70% by 2050 to sustain the global population. As such, food security is a major global concern.  

Short Food Supply Chains (SFSC) have emerged as an alternative to conventional long and anonymous supply chains. With a focus on the re-localisation and re-socialisation of the agri-food system, they aim to mitigate many of the current system’s shortcomings. Despite growing interest in SFSCs, there is limited research into their wider adoption at a strategic level amongst agri-food organisations.  

By investigating the current adoption strategies of various agri-food companies and building upon the Dynamic Capabilities Theory (DCT), this research aims to create a framework to assist agri-food organisations in navigating the complex decision-making environment required to develop and implement SFSC strategies. The research takes a case study approach, with data collection coming from in-depth interviews with agri-food supply chain practitioners.  

Our findings indicate that, by building upon their beneficial product, process, and location attributes, organisations can reconfigure their internal and external resources to develop firm-specific SFSC strategies. In this way, businesses can develop valuable supply chain capabilities, such as improved customer and supplier relationship management, better visibility, enhanced collaboration and integration between supply chain partners, and greater supply chain resilience. 



Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.