International Journal of Food Studies (Jul 2022)

Gamification for sustainable food transitions: supporting multi-level cooperation in short food supply chains through GAIN

  • Danika Moore,
  • Bob Massar,
  • Mark Frederiks,
  • Remco Veltkamp,
  • Hens Runhaar

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 0


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The food system has become globalized and industrial. As a consequence, food travels long distances to reach consumers and its production is over-reliant on chemicals, leading to high levels of carbon emissions and soil degradation. Short food supply chains (SFSCs) have been advocated as more sustainable alternatives and have been explicitly mentioned by the Dutch government and the EU as a strategy towards achieving sustainability goals. While SFSCs are viable on a small scale, scaling and mainstreaming them has proven difficult due to low margins, high costs, and steep learning curves. Their economic underperformance is particularly glaring when compared to the highly cost-efficient - albeit energy and resource intensive - conventional commercial supply chains. In practice, SFSCs therefore remain isolated success stories, failing to contribute to systemic change in food systems. In efforts to enhance the performance of SFSCs, this paper introduces the GAIN transition model, a novel framework based on gamification which provides a holistic and actionable framework for SFSC actors to coalesce and strategize around a common vision. We illustrate the underlying principles of GAIN and its potential for institutionalizing SFSCs. We find that thus far, GAIN has helped to catalyze action and has proven a useful tool which provides a common language for actors to navigate this complex space. Future research and more dissemination are needed to conclude with more certainty on the quantitative impact of GAIN in terms of enabling and strengthening SFSCs.