Challenges and opportunities by increasing food self-sufficiency
Challenges to increase food self-sufficiency identified across the five islands included: local competition against cheaper, imported food products, logistics concerning the local distribution and availability of food, and consumers’ dietary habits, preferences, and purchasing power. One factor that was emphasised as a vulnerability in all five islands was the great dependency on imported materials to support the food production process (e.g., fodder, fertilisers, fuel, energy, machinery, and equipment). Other shared barriers included, for example, access to sufficient knowledge, competence, as well as an available and suitably qualified labour force.
Opportunities associated with increased food self-sufficiency included job creation, local development, increased food security, and lower climate footprint. Food was emphasised as a key strength for the local economies and their development potentials by stakeholders in all islands. Another strength is the islands’ relatively small populations, which means that collaboration and creating synergies across food system actors is an achievable reality. An increased focus on sustainability among both locals and tourists, may also provide opportunities to stimulate and support increased local food production in the Nordic context.
Easy access to local products for restaurants, public institutions, and citizens is a prerequisite for the sale of local food. Innovation in food production, alongside increased local production of materials required in the food production process, may also contribute to increased self-sufficiency levels. Moreover, a change in the type of food production, from animal-based food to more plant-based foods, may be a way to increase local food self-sufficiency, particularly in Bornholm and Åland.