The critical role of SMEs in delivering nutrition
Small- and medium-sized enterprises constitute at least half the food system. Each country is different, but SMEs usually make up over 90% of businesses in the agri-food sector, create half the sector’s economic value, provide more than half its jobs, and handle more than half the food consumed. They are incredibly diverse, from bakeries to farm suppliers, coffee co-ops to digital start-ups. Some will grow exponentially to become renowned giants, but the vast majority are hidden heroes labouring to provide food from their niche in the food system.
Food SMEs are quiet revolutionaries, working tirelessly to transform food systems in every corner of the planet. Listen carefully, and you will hear their shared vision for rebalanced food systems that sustain past efficiency gains, whilst no longer compromising nutrition, natural capital, equity and resilience.
Small farmers as commercial enterprises should be adequately integrated in the food value chain of SMEs that delivers the food locallly and domestically, through support in agri-supplies and info, food processing, distribution, retail and marketing messaging. Such integration ensuring that the raw foods for innovative developments, like neglected and underutilised crop species, are actually produce and can contribute to creating resilience and food and nutrition security.
In the current food system, the risks are that large scale aggregation reduces communities’, regions’ and countries’ food sovereignty, as farmers (and SMEs) become fully subjugated to the big companies, both for inputs and income. Furthermore, large scale centralisation is often less energy and resource inefficient. The scale is optimal, not ever larger.
Yet, access to finance is the foremost barrier to increase the growth of SME’s to deliver nutritious foods. Event to highlight the need for innovative financing mechanisms to address public funding gaps & blended finance (public and private finance).