MED-LINKS aims at providing small-scale producers with tailored and effective solutions enhancing efficiency, sustainability and fairness along fruit and vegetable supply chains in Mediterranean countries. The project will implement pilot actions in local clusters of small-scale producers in Egypt, France, Greece, Italy and Morocco to enhance their capability to adopt quality, environmental and social standards and thus to connect with other supply chain actors and profitability, while meeting final consumers’ needs.

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Period of Implementation

Jun 1, 2021 - Nov 30, 2024
Total Budget

EUR 982,266.93



The project tackles five Specific Objectives: (i) to assess the competitive performance of Mediterranean FV supply chains and consumer preferences; (ii) to support the adoption of quality and sustainability standards among small-scale supply chain actors; (iii) to provide innovative IT tools supporting decision making; (iv) to provide small-scale actors with optimised management practices and business relations enhancing quality, sustainability and profitability; (v) to encourage stakeholders to exploit the results for local communities.


MED-LINKS approach is based on the combination of three groups of optimization tools: (i) quality and sustainability standards and protocols, (ii) digital platform empowered with blockchain technology (smart contracts) and (iii) managerial tools and coordination strategies (i.e. Business Models). These will be customized based on the actual conditions of local actors participating in three different supply chain systems representative of commercial circuits in the Mediterranean region, namely: a) local Short Food Supply Chains, b) Green Public Procurement, c) Export-Oriented Supply Chains.

Problems and Needs Analysis

Mediterranean Fruit and Vegetable (FV) supply chains are exposed to the complexity of today's global market. The European Union is a net importer of FV, which currently represents one third of all primary food commodities import value, with South Mediterranean countries representing one of the main non-EU sources for such products. Although globalization of food systems represented an important opportunity for development of the entire Mediterranean agricultural sector, it also posits considerable challenges to the actors of local economy due to high dynamics and uncertainty in supply and demand, ambiguity covering the quality of fresh products, availability of appropriate volumes in time and in a specific place. At the same time, while a strong orientation to exports is observed, it often results in supply chains inefficiencies and various externalities, such as disproportion among massive production and demand, abandonment of cultivation for the regions least equipped with logistics resources and losses ranging in some cases between 25-50% of post harvested products. This is true especially for those fragmented productive structures composed mainly by small-scale producers: on one hand they are fundamental actors responsible for local food security and employment, but on the other hand they are still not adequately linked to markets due to information gaps and asymmetries, low and geographically fragmented production volumes, remoteness and transportation costs and difficulty in meeting high food safety requirements and traceability. In addition, recently small-scale producers have also been facing unprecedent stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic since bans, trade and movement restrictions made competition on the market even more challenging for smallholders.

Intervention Strategy(ies)

After a recognition of the major existing public and private quality and sustainability schemes in each of the three supply chain systems, innovative quality and sustainability tools or strategies tailored for SMEs (e.g. voluntary certifications schemes, Participatory Guarantee Systems, etc.) will be proposed. The second optimization set of strategies concerns the exploitation of innovative business models. An experts’ pool will evaluate and select the BM to optimize within specific clusters. Finally, partners will propose guidelines for pilot actions, bringing about technological innovation’s proposals compatible with selected optimized BMs. As a third set of optimization tools, a web-based digital platform will be developed to support small producers in (i) networking with other supply chain actors and final consumers, (ii) increasing opportunities and reputation (iii) adopting quality and sustainability standards and (iii) managing commercial B2B transactions.

Impact Pathway

In order to scale out and scale up the proposed innovations, context-specific response strategies enhancing the competitiveness and sustainability of local SMEs and value chains of interest will be implemented and demonstrated through five Pilot Actions. Compatibility between the proposed certification paths, business models and digital solutions will be tested and their potential benefits will be verified in real contexts, in each target Country. MED-LINKS will also develop training and advisory activities, while stakeholders’ feedback will be monitored and drivers determining acceptance or refusal of the solutions proposed will be analyzed.

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