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The Territorial Food Project (TAP): from observation to action

Episode #5
Podcast 5: The Projet Alimentaire Territorial (PAT): from observation to action

Eating is Changing the World, the podcast series that decodes food systems - Episode 5

In our new episode of the podcast "Eating is changing the world", we talk about Territorial Food Projects (TFP) with two Soliance Alimentaire consultants: Marielle Martinez, a specialist in sustainable food systems, and Perrine Ruamps, Head of the Institutions and Communities division.

In short, TAPs are projects that aim to address the issue of food in a comprehensive way by taking into account different elements. They are thus interested in production methods, distribution channels, collective catering, tourism, food waste, and more. They are generally led by a local authority and involve broad consultation between all stakeholders: farmers, business leaders, citizens, associations, as well as various public and private actors.

Our two interlocutors consider that the TAPs have the potential to trigger a takeover of agricultural and food issues. They appear to be real vectors for the emergence of collective dynamics. However, they still need to prove that they can lead to concrete actions and projects that will have a real impact on the transition to more sustainable food systems. To learn more about this subject, listen to our podcast!

Territorial Food Project (TAP): definition    

A Territorial Food Project (TAP ) is based on a global approach to food-related issues: production methods, distribution channels, collective catering, food accessibility, agricultural land, tourism, food waste... The aim of the TAP is to address all these issues in a systemic way.

To be successful, such a project must be carried out by the community in consultation with all the actors of the food systems of the territory, namely:

  • Farmers,
  • Business leaders,
  • Citizens,
  • Associations
  • Etc.

In short, all public and private actors concerned by the food issue are involved in the realization of the TAP. To ensure the success of the project, all the stakeholders of the community/metropolis or territory are given the floor. They are asked to define their perception of the territory, to express their expectations, and to identify the means and levers of action that they imagine they can implement at their level. Once this diagnosis has been completed and the challenges of the TAP clearly identified, we move on to a time of co-construction aimed at implementing solutions for the territory. These tools and decisions are tailor-made for the benefit of the general interest, while respecting the stakeholders. The real challenge? That each of them feels integrated and recognized within the TAP.  

Accelerating the implementation of local initiatives through the Territorial Food Project (TFP): the means to be put in place

According to Marielle Martinez, the TAPs are able to trigger a real ownership of agricultural and food issues. They are also able to create a collective dynamic thanks to the strength of territorial animation they have. The challenge, according to her? To be able to demonstrate that they can concretely lead to the implementation of actions and projects that participate in the transition of food systems.

"At each stage, we must be pragmatic: we must make a complete and relevant diagnosis, but without seeking to be exhaustive in order to avoid delays and additional costs. Indeed, the diagnosis is not an end in itself. It is only the starting point. The success of the TAP will be determined later on, when the time for action comes. There are a number of challenges that arise along the way, notably the question of temporality. The temporality of public action is not the same as that of economic actors.

We must therefore find a way to make them coincide. To make a TAP successful, each of these actors must be involved and put their capacity for action at the service of the collective".

Marielle Martinez

To summarize, the steps that constitute a TAP are necessary but require a "long" time before providing concrete results. Today, it is therefore too early to assess their impact 100%. In the pursuit of a TAP, the sustainability of the project and the mobilization of appropriate resources over the long term are crucial success factors. It is imperative that human resources be dedicated to the project so that the collective dynamic is maintained over time.

In response to all these constraints, the most common apprehension of TAP leaders concerns their financial involvement. Indeed, substantial financial resources must be made available to the TAP to enable the implementation of the action plans developed. This support is essential in order to appreciate the interest of this approach and to see all the actions take shape.

Continue reading: sustainable livestock production, when transformation becomes necessary

Focus on the field: what are the implications and success criteria of a Territorial Food Project (TFP)?  

To bring out the dialogue between the different stakeholders of the Territorial Food Project (TAP)

According to Perrine Ruamps, Head of the Institutions and Communities Unit, the emergence of a dialogue between the different actors of the TAP makes it possible to identify the food issues of their territory and to implement concrete actions at different scales.

" A TAP can help a mayor realize the environmental, social and economic stakes of the last dairy farm in his town. From there, he can find himself defending his closure in awareness of the importance it represents for the whole territory ".

Perrine Ruamps

Perrine Ruamps

A TAP can also be the source of larger-scale actions - Perrine Ruamps explains that they can, in particular, give rise to initiatives for structuring sectors. Why? By promoting dialogue, a TAP can enable its stakeholders to raise systemic food issues. Without meetings and sharing, the actors concerned are sometimes unaware that change is possible.

" We have accompanied a PAT in eastern France, which is now interested in structuring the meat industry in the region. It brings together actors from the collective catering, the breeding sector, cooperatives and processors. The project aims to create value within the sector and to respond to multiple food issues. By working with collective catering, we are putting the resources of the territory at the service of the inhabitants. This type of actor is typically a distribution method with a social vocation, and therefore a strategic lever within the framework of a TAP ", Perrine Ruamps.

A TAP can thus contribute to different objectives related to food within a territory, from the fight againstfood insecurity to the establishment of local partnerships to combat the risk of food shortages in France.

Evaluating a Territorial Food Project (TAP): the search for indicators of achievement

Evaluating a TAP requires the search for achievement indicators. These indicators make it possible to show what this type of territorial project achieves. As explained earlier, the TAP system is still quite young. At this stage, one of the main indicators of achievement is to evaluate the level of ownership of food and agricultural issues by the various actors in the project. Has it made it possible to bring together the key actors to deal with a given theme? Has it contributed to the implementation or initiation of actions?

Today, the difficulty is to find the impact of these actions, knowing that they are still in their early stages. The other constraint, and this is where Soliance Alimentaire has a role to play, is that the TAPs do not always benefit from monitoring and evaluation procedures. This makes it very difficult for them to promote what they have achieved and to communicate about their success, importance and the need to continue them for the territory.

Soliance Alimentaire: supporting the success of Territorial Food Projects (TFP)

Today, TAP holders need to be accompanied and equipped to :

  • Evaluate the impact of the project on the territory,
  • Define the ambitions and objectives carried by the TAP,
  • Show the coherence of the actions implemented,
  • And explain the relevance and effectiveness of the actions taken.

How does Soliance Alimentaire support territories in setting up a TAP?  

Our consulting and research firm, expert in agri-food, offers operational support for the implementation of a TAP. Our dual expertise in both the private and the public sector is an asset that facilitates the establishment of a dialogue around common projects between actors of different natures.

According to Perrine Ruamps, Head of the Institutions and Communities Unit and in charge of the territorial food project, " the firm can help a community whose National Interest Market (MIN) is managed by a company to set up a producer's box and to work with economic actors who wish to set up there ".

For the Soliance Alimentaire team, the firm has a real role to play in encouraging territories to take full advantage of the PAT tool. The consultants are there to accompany them while respecting their specificities, potential, local dynamics and available means. The subject of food transition is at the heart of the firm's raison d'être - it is therefore essential for the team to be proactive in this major accompaniment, in favor of the transition to more reasoned food systems.

Did you enjoy this content? See you next month for a new episode of Eating is Changing the World.

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