Name of organisation
Type of organisation
Cereal-focused short food supply chain network
Collaborative short food supply chain; Wheat and Bread production; Participatory Guarantee Systems
Who is Gran Prato?
The GranPrato project was set up in 2011 to create a local ‘zero KM’ cereal supply chain. Its main aim was to give concrete support to local agriculture by enhancing the value of products made from grains produced in the area, in particular the ‘bozza pratese’, a traditional local bread. In addition to this, GranPrato also aims to:
- Contribute to the maintenance of farms by paying farmers fairly for the work they do and decoupling them from the global market.
- Re-orient grain production towards the local and regional market, agreeing on a fair remuneration for the farmers and for all the operators in the supply chain, while maintaining high quality standards.
- Maintain a specific and typical regional agri-food production by rethinking the role of agriculture in the Prato area, threatened by urbanisation and by the ongoing expansion of the Prato textile district, the largest in Europe.
- Orient local companies towards environmentally sustainable agriculture and multi- productivity linked to good agronomic practices.
- Adopt an incremental approach, knowing that the cultivation and business approach of many farms cannot be changed in a short time.
- Create a product that enhances local skills and makes consumers aware of the importance of agriculture as a producer of services and public goods.
Who do GranPrato work with and how do they do it?
In the GranPrato initiative, farmers, millers, bakeries, pastry shops, universities, and public entities work together to create an alternative cereal supply chain. The collaboration between the different actors is regulated through a Supply Chain Agreement signed in 2013, which contains the objectives of the “GranPrato” supply chain and regulates the production and commercial relations between the actors. This agreement is based on principles of self-determination and a participatory guarantee system, meaning that the consortium of GranPrato members jointly set prices for wheat, flour and bread, so that every actor in the supply chain is fairly remunerated.
The actors in the supply chain have adopted two production specifications, one for the cultivation of wheat and one for the production of bread. The first outlines the cultivation techniques for wheat, which, although conventional, are oriented towards protecting the environment and the health of both operators and consumers. The second aims to guarantee the quality and typicality of the bread “bozza pratese”, a speciality of Prato, and its other processed products. Moreover, the aim is to progressively improve these requirements, in particular by highlighting the excellence and skills of Prato’s artisans and encouraging the use of flour obtained from old varieties of wheat grown organically or using natural methods in the Prato area.
The main strength of the GranPrato short supply chain was that it emerged from an already existing productive reality, where actors were already connected to each other and in close contact in a circumscribed area. The strong upstream impulse of the Associazione Parco Agricolo di Prato (Prato Agricultural Park of Prato) for actors to join together has been fundamental and has led to the development of a common project able to bring economic benefits to all, with positive implications also for the environment, the enhancement of the agricultural tradition of the Prato area and raising the awareness of the local community about the potential of peri-urban agriculture.
GranPrato has led to the valorisation of a traditional product, the “bozza pratese”, already considered a product of excellence in the field of bread making, adding a further element of quality, which strengthens the link with the territory. GranPrato bread is fairly well known and consumed by people in Prato, and its success has also been favoured by the presence of an urban market which is sensitive to quality, typicality and traceability of food. Consumers acknowledge the quality of the product and also “the face of those who produce it”, because they are producers strictly located in the Prato area.
What are GranPrato’s main challenges?
When the GranPrato supply chain tried to expand their sales channels, dealing with the supply of bread in school canteens in the Prato area, they encountered great difficulties and finally had to abandon the attempt.
After a first pilot phase in which the bread proved popular with school pupils, a series of problems emerged with the catering company that won the public tender. Indeed, the catering company required bakers to deliver the bread cut into slices, packaged and accompanied each day by accurate documentation (e.g., transport bills issued daily to the various school buildings).
GranPrato operators could not offer a product and a service that went far beyond the schemes of artisanal bread production and, therefore, decided to interrupt the supply. It was not possible to find a solution that could allow the introduction of quality local bread in school canteens while maintaining feasibility for the supply chain operators to work profitably, and therefore GranPrato abandoned this objective.
What emerged from this experience was also the difficulty of the supply chain and small artisan bread producers to fit into an industrial logic and access this type of supply, particularly with all that it entails in terms of product standardization and regulations related to transport and packaging.
GranPrato has also struggled with the passive behaviour of some actors in their value chain, which tend to participate just for economic reasons, without really getting involved in the spirit, the activities, the promotion and the social life of the value chain. As a result, the use of the GranPrato brand has been below its potential.
What are the priorities for GranPrato?
In relation to GranPrato, an external governance mechanism inspired by a local food policy approach from public authorities (e.g., municipality, province, etc.) would have great relevance in impacting the GranPrato initiative, as it would help the supply chain to expand in terms of market reach, production typologies, organisation of the supply chain, equipment, communication and information to consumers, and higher involvement and producers’ commitment.
Indeed, GranPrato members expressed the need for greater “vision” from the local public sector and greater attention to the relationship between the territory and food. The productive sector (i.e., farmers, millers, and bakers) is quite ready to embrace the opportunities presented by sustainable agriculture and short food supply chains; however, the public sector often shows little ambition and readiness on these issues. This is one of the main reasons why GranPrato decided to join the COACH consortium and is eager to learn and exchange experiences relating to public sector procurement.
From a research point of view, all the knowledge is probably already out there. What is needed is to intensify the knowledge transfer from universities and research institutions to the agricultural and agri-food sector, but also to the public sector.
Policy favouring stable long-term land contracts, by reducing the expectation of land transformation into “building land” so that it becomes profitable to rent it to farmers.
Care for hydraulic regimes, attention to reducing the impact of urbanisation and industrialisation, maintaining land permeability, and reducing soil degradation.