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Megjelent Benedek Zsófia, Baráth Lajos, Fertő Imre , Nemes Gusztáv, Orbán Éva és szerzőtársaik cikke a Sociologia Ruralis tudományos folyóiratban

Survival strategies of producers involved in short food supply chains following the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic: A Hungarian case study

The outbreak of COVID-19 caused unprecedented disruption to the global food distribution network
(Barrett 2020, Hobbs 2020, Torero 2020). Although the major impact, with the exception of those
who suffered from medical issues, appeared to be economic (Béné 2020, Laborde et al. 2020), the
spread of COVID intensified existing concerns regarding the (un)sustainability of the global food
system, potential threats to food security (of the poor, mostly), and to the resilience of local food
system actors (Béné 2020, Laborde et al. 2020, Swinnen 2020, Volpato et al. 2020). Many authors
regard the COVID-related situation as a real-time experiment concerning the sustainability transition
(Bodenheimer & Leidenberger 2020, Cohen 2020), with a special focus on local food systems and
short food supply chains(SFSCs). These alternative systems may fulfil a number of roles and
functions and include a diversity of actors as well as marketing channels, making them reliable
elements of the food system in terms of maintaining operations, compared to the relatively small
number of transnational agrifood enterprises (Hendrickson 2015, Lamine 2015, Tendall et al. 2015).
A consensus seems to be evolving about their importance during COVID (Blay-Palmer et al. 2020,
Boons et al. 2020, Cummins et al. 2020, Swinnen 2020). Individuals and local networks are
hypothesized to be able to adapt more easily and rapidly to changing conditions than larger ones
(Cabell & Oelofse 2012). On the other hand, heterogeneous responses were reported by the grey
literature and the media, and concerns have been formulated by many authors that many SFSC
producers faced challenges accessing the market due to lock-down measures and social distancing
and/or labour shortages (Holden 2020, Torero 2020). In fact, solid empirical evidence about the
actual strategies, opportunities, and responses of small-scale producers employed to take advantage
of the current situation (or at least moderate its impacts) is still lacking.
The aim of this paper is to document early, first-wave COVID-19 impacts experienced by small-scale
food producers in Hungary, and to differentiate some of their early responses. In presenting
empirical data, this work contributes to filling a knowledge gap about the actual reaction of small-
scale farmers to the market-related disruptions caused by the pandemic, not only in terms of
economic outcomes but also in relation to strategic decision-making and behavioural-attitudinal
transformations. The concept of resilience was used to build a framework. The related literature is
reviewed in the following section.

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