Short supply chain and km0, market trends and standards in Italy


‘Short supply chain. After a review of EU rules and applicable best practices, some insights into market trends and current regulations in Italy are offered.

The ‘supply chain’ on the label in GS1-Italy’s Immagino 2018 report

GS1-Italy’s Immagino Observatory, in its latest report, offers a comprehensive picture of the mandatory and voluntary information displayed on the labels of 72,100 food products distributed on retail channels in 2018. Among them, 613 labels-or 0.8 percent of the total-carry news about the ‘supply chain’ of origin. In addition to claims subject to special rules, such as PDO, PGI, organic.

The figure in itself is not particularly significant, even taking into account the ambiguity and deceptiveness of some of the wording. (1) However, we note the progressive dissemination of news related to the supply chain (+14.1% compared to 2017), used on 55 brands in the production sector and 10 brands in thelarge-scale retail trade (GDO). The two most popular wordings in 2018:

controlled supply chain‘, out of 345 products, sales exceeded € 125 million (+12.3%),

Certified supply chain‘, 72 products, €48.5 million (+5.4%).

On closer inspection, these are completely meaningless, pleonastic and often illicit statements. (2) Which denote the lack of imagination of marketing offices and at the same time the lack of initiative of operators. Instead, which could characterize their specifications with additional elements related to the territory and sustainability of each stage of the process. Aiming to build consumerAtor loyalty through ‘social pacts’ that consolidate value on the ground.

Short supply chain‘ and ‘mileage products,’ national standards

Law 158/17 – ‘Measures for the support and enhancement of small municipalities, as well as provisions for the redevelopment and rehabilitation of the historic centers of the same municipalities’ – aspires to promote and encourage the sale of products that come from ‘short supply chain’ or ‘mileage‘.

‘Agricultural and food products from shortsupply chain’ means agricultural and food products from a supply chain formed by a limited number of economic operators who are committed to promoting cooperation, local economic development and close socio-territorial relationships between producers, processors and consumers.’ (3)

Nothing new compared to the equally vague prediction of the European legislature. The concept of short supply chain remains undefined, albeit anchored to certain values. Therefore, the onus remains on the operator who makes reference to it to be able to prove the truthfulness and concreteness of its claims. Different is the case with the

For ‘farm and food products ‘at a kilometer’s distance” are those ‘originating from a place of production or a place of cultivation and breeding of the primary agricultural raw material used in the processing of products, located within a radius of 70 kilometers from the place of sale, as well as products for which a limited contribution of pollutant emissions from transport is demonstrated, calculated from the stage of production to the time of final consumption.’ (4)

The Ministry of Environment, in agreement with the Ministry of Agriculture, should have defined the criteria and parameters to be observed to demonstrate the limited contribution of pollutant emissions. But the yellow-green government has left that out, instead devoting priority to the legitimization of toxic sludge in agriculture.

Short supply chain, unexpressed opportunities

To ‘100% Made in Italy goes the pink jersey of the Immagino 2018 report, as seen. Italian consumers have finally learned to appreciate products whose supply chains are rooted in the local area, as evidenced by the resounding success of pasta from Italian wheat. Made-in-Italy agricultural raw material is not necessarily better, but fostering it means contributing to our economy, employment and GDP, agriculture and allied industries.

‘Short supply chain,’ nonetheless, was recorded on only 16 of the 72,100 labels displayed on supermarket shelves in Italy in 2018. Store conventions or simple short-sightedness? How can you not understand that consumAtors may also appreciate the use of Italian wheat in baked goods, domestic legumes instead of glyphosate-laden Canadian ones, krumiri cookies with Italian butter instead of tropical palm?

‘Meditatepeople, meditate…’ (quoted by Renzo Arbore)

Dario Dongo


(1) A widespread deception is the appeal to the concepts of ‘integrated pest management’ or similar on IV and V range products. Since, in fact, integrated pest management in agriculture is mandatory, in Italy as well as in Europe, its boasting on the label is to be understood as prohibited, according to reg. EU 1169/11, Article 7.1.c. Where it is prohibited to attribute to a food product characteristics that are instead common to products in the same category

(2) For the reasons of law mentioned in note 1, claiming control or certification of the supply chain of private label products is also to be understood as prohibited. Since these are, once again, characteristics common to all fruit and vegetables packaged under private label

(3) See Law 158/2017, Art. 11.2.a

(4) See Act 158/17, Art. 11.2.b

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.