General limitations of the current approach in developing sustainable food system frameworks

Tong Zou, Ayotunde Dawodu, Eugenio Mangi, Ali Cheshmehzangi

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Current studies on sustainability transitions of the food system (FS) are limited. The tools for assessing FS sustainability and enhancing FS performance are still lacking, highlighting the critical role of developing an assessment indicator framework for assisting sustainable FS transitions. This study seeks opportunities for optimizing existing FS frameworks that address the triple burden of malnutrition and FS sustainability. It examines FS frameworks and other food system-related frameworks such as those linked to food security, food sovereignty, and so on, unveiling the general limitations of current approaches and methodologies in FS frameworks and other related frameworks. To our knowledge, it is the first study to discuss the gaps of FS frameworks regarding their coverage on the food lifecycle and their representation of FS's multidimensionality. The results indicate that most FS frameworks and related frameworks are conceptual. The most frequent limitations are no targeting audience, no coverage of the food disposal stage, and no institutional/political dimension/indicators. Some frameworks have no multi-stakeholder inputs, no coverage of food input and/or food storage stages, no economic or nutritional dimension/indicators, while only a few frameworks involve statistical/empirical methods or quantitative indicators. Other limitations regarding language, data, and time are also identified. Finally, this study suggests developing a comprehensive multi-dimensional urban food system framework considering the full life cycle of food and combining FS-related perspectives with the five dimensions of environmental, economic, institutional, socio-cultural, and nutritional sustainability to mitigate the lifecycle and sustainability dimension issues and gaps.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100624
JournalGlobal Food Security
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • Food security
  • Food system
  • Indicator assessment
  • Sustainability transitions
  • Urban food system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research


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