The purpose of this paper is to investigate how sustainability integrates the business strategy of Brazilian community supported agriculture (CSA) initiatives, and to understand the social, environmental and economic benefits to producers and consumers.
A case study was carried out through participant observation, using the techniques of ethnography, in addition to in-depth interviews and access to secondary data. Follow-up was carried out over two years and six months with two CSA initiatives.
The results indicated that the analyzed CSA activities address, in an integrated way, the social, environmental and economic dimensions of sustainability by promoting healthy diet, sustainable agriculture and social transformation to producers and consumers. Producers have their sales guaranteed due to previous consumers’ association; they also receive higher incomes, avoiding the rural exodus. In addition, their work conditions do not harm their health and the diversified production meets the consumption of their family group, increasing farmers’ autonomy. Regarding consumers, there is a strong emphasis on education for sustainability. It occurs primarily through face-to-face contact among participants, at times of basket withdrawal, follow-up visits to production and interaction events at farmers’ place. Exchanges of information, recipes, cooking classes, newsletters and internet interactions are also important. As these outputs, verified in a real situation, integrate the mission and the business proposal of these CSAs initiatives, it is possible to conclude that, in these analyzed situations, sustainability is incorporated into a business strategy. Sustainability is a structural component of the strategy, with practices in different levels of the business activity.
As an exploratory study, the findings cannot be extrapolated to broader populations. To improve generalization, it would be beneficial to broaden the sample and pursue comparative research between countries and regions. Also, studies should examine which incentive structures and programs would relate more to better outcomes in education for sustainability and behavior chances.
From a managerial point of view, this study contributes by presenting emerging businesses in Brazil, which incorporated sustainability in their strategy, contributing with the need pointed out by Robinson (2004) to provide innovative and creative solutions toward sustainability. It also presents some alternatives to achieve objectives of the 2030 Agenda, especially objective 2 (related to food security) and 12 (improve sustainable production and consumption systems). This study also contributes by elucidating alternatives to promote education for sustainable consumption, presenting cases where consumers reported a more sustainable behavior.
This study contributes to the literature by filling the gap pointed out by Arzu and Erkan (2010), Nakamba, Chan and Sharmina (2017), Rossi et al. (2017) and Searcy (2016) about addressing all three dimensions of sustainability in an integrated way, by analyzing CSA initiatives (a need indicated by Brown and Miller, 2008), especially evaluating empirical cases of sustainability insertion in the business strategy, as proposed by Claro, Claro and Amâncio (2008) and Franceschelli, Santoro and Candelo (2018). This study also responded to the need pointed out by Benites Lázaro and Gremaud (2016) to further understand the insertion of sustainability in the context of Latin America.
Matzembacher, D. and Meira, F. (2019), "Sustainability as business strategy in community supported agriculture: Social, environmental and economic benefits for producers and consumers", British Food Journal, Vol. 121 No. 2, pp. 616-632. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-03-2018-0207Download as .RIS
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