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The Pitfalls within Alternative Food Networks: A Comparison Between Japan’s Wholesale Market System and Alternative Market Distribution Challenges

Chika Kondo (Kyoto University Graduate School of Agriculture, Japan)
Atsushi Suzuki (Kyoto University Graduate School of Agriculture, Japan)


This chapter provides insights into the distribution challenges faced by alternative food networks (AFNs) in Japan. Consumers in Japan are showing increasing interest in supporting and buying directly from farmers, reflecting a growing demand for local food production and consumption. This trend parallels the increasing popularity of AFNs which are often touted as distribution models that seek to reconfigure the relationship between producers and consumers. Although AFNs are defined as a bottom-up response to the unsustainable nature of the industrial food system and the exploitative trade relations that are embedded within global food supply chains, there is little in the literature regarding challenges that emerge when scaling AFNs. This chapter focuses on the distribution challenges that emerge for AFN models that exist outside of direct market transactions, by comparing AFN models in Japan with a local wholesale market system that exists within the conventional, mainstream food system. Based on an analysis of the nuances and complexities that AFNs face in coordinating aggregation and distribution, we argue that the promotion of local food systems can also benefit existing conventional food systems, by leveraging the infrastructure of local wholesale markets. The distribution logistics and fundamentals of parity pricing from the wholesale market system would enable AFNs in Japan to establish a more accessible and sustainable food system. Using four case studies, including a local wholesale-market and three AFN models that distribute agricultural products from rural to rural, and rural to urban areas located in the Kansai region of Japan, we deepen the discussion of how small-scale farmers and their involvement in AFNs can better support sustainable food system transformation.



Kondo, C. and Suzuki, A. (2022), "The Pitfalls within Alternative Food Networks: A Comparison Between Japan’s Wholesale Market System and Alternative Market Distribution Challenges", Mars, M.M. and Schau, H.J. (Ed.) How Alternative is Alternative? The Role of Entrepreneurial Development, Form, and Function in the Emergence of Alternative Marketscapes (Advances in the Study of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Economic Growth, Vol. 29), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 123-147.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022 Chika Kondo and Atsushi Suzuki