Food systems have a variety of scales – global, regional, and national. In addition to these, there are local systems that are unique to specific regions or countries. The changes to these systems are driven by both internal and external factors. For example, changes in the local food system may have different impacts on local communities and farmers than changes in the global food system.
Food systems are closely linked to society, and changes to one part affect the rest. These changes may affect the nutritional content of food, its price, or the availability and accessibility of foods. Food systems are often vulnerable to crises like climate change, conflicts, and environmental crises. As a result, millions of children don’t have access to safe and nutritious food. Famine should become a thing of the past.
Food system typologies are developed by identifying the characteristics that distinguish food systems from one another. Ideally, the indicators should represent different components of a food system and have evidence that they are associated with particular transitions or patterns. It is also important that indicators have a high global coverage – at least 100 countries – and be well balanced across different regions. If they are not, the typology may not be as useful. A typology should reflect both the diversity of food systems and their relationship to socioeconomic development.
Food systems may have different levels of formal and informal markets. In urban areas, for example, supermarket chains are common. Their market shares are increasing. In rural areas, however, most fresh foods are acquired through informal markets. This type of food system is characterized by lower government monitoring capacity. Nevertheless, food safety standards are increasing in this type of food system.