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Transformation of the Brazilian micro-regional cottage food industry chain: production, awareness and consumption (50 Km Radius)

A proposal to decentralize the production of processed foods by using the local potential of artisanal goods.

Photo of Lucas Vitti
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Lead Applicant Organization Name

Centro Universitário Senac – CAP

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Large company (over 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Since 1946, the National Service for Commercial Learning - Senac has been the main professional education agent focused on the Goods Trading, Services and Tourism in Brazil. Today, it is present in more than 1,800 municipalities, from North to South of Brazil, where it maintains an infrastructure composed of more than 600 school units, educational companies and mobile units. Its portfolio includes presential and distance courses, in several areas of knowledge, ranging from Initial and Continuing Education to Postgraduate courses and allow students to plan their professional careers in a perspective of continuing education. In addition, Senac is a constituent of the Brazilian S System, composed of educational institutions, trade promotion, goods production and cooperatives. Among these is SENAR, responsible for technical and productive assistance to small rural producers. In 2019, SENAR started cataloging, prospecting and assisting artisanal food producers in Brazil.

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Águas de São Pedro

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

The vision was initially structured for the micro region of Piracicaba in a 50 kilometers radius.

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

My connection with the Piracicaba region begins in the 20th century, when my Italian ancestors were established in the local after an attempt to escape the wars and famines that ravaged Europe. In the region, they built a small village where they maintained their Italian traditions. Although this is a story common to several municipalities and families in the interior of the state of São Paulo, a dietary characteristic was strongly disseminated in the Piracicaba region. Mainly of a rural nature, it showed synergy with indigenous and other European cultures, compiling something worthy to Brazil. In this rural life, centered on knowledge acquired over generations, the practice of producing your own food was a necessity in life. In a complex mix of conditions, foods had strong connections with the people, the local nature, its climate and geographical identifications. Artisanal foods, usually made at home, were the highlight of the time. Cheeses, breads, sausages, jams, flours, coffees and others were part of the daily preparation and income of rural and urban families. Currently, these products still exist, and some remain a financial source for countless families. However, industrial supremacy has overshadowed the visibility of these foods, making them marginalized. Our culture, our history and decades of learning have been marginalized by an economy of scale that ignored an entire valuable food system.

All of this potential was intensified in my vision after the conclusion of the Gastronomy course at the Centro Universitário Senac located in the microregion of Piracicaba. The possibility of getting to know more about the nature of food aroused not only an admiration for diversity, but the identification of a local potential that cries out to be restored in our next generations.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

The region of Piracicaba is a “small big” urban center in the central part of the São Paulo state. The main city, with its 1378 km² of area, has 31.5 km² constitute the urban area and the remaining 1346.5 km² are part of the rural area. It is a city with immense potential for rural production and other products that come from this environment. At the same time, it is a developed and progressive city in several fields related to food. This feature is reflected in A&B and retail ventures that are intended solely for trade in organic, vegetarian, vegan and sustainable products. It also has a Slow Food conviviality (Piracicaba conviviality), a public university that is a reference in studies in the field of agronomy and food production (ESALQ / USP) and, also, a distribution and supply center with a range of warehouses with different types of products (CEAGESP).

The interior culture of São Paulo (which we will affectionately call “bumpkin”) brings many traces of European cultures, mainly Italian culture, originating from the immigrants who occupied the city at the beginning of its consolidation. This arrange with other immigrants and migrations is reflected in typical foods unique to this city, in addition to food traditions, eating a river fish in the famous “Porto’s Street”, festivals that are based around an ingredient - the corn festival, or of a religion - the festival of the Divine, a land and river procession that attracts an immense number of faithful and, together with them, an immense amount of festive and local food.

Other cultural manifestations are originated from Afro-Brazilian syncretism, such as maracatu, maculelê, the pull of the net, capoeira and the Afro-Brazilian religions are also very present in Piracicaban culture.

Piracicaba is part of the Serra do Itaqueri, a conglomerate of 13 cities united by regional tourism development, where all share a similar relief, climate, traditions and the famous country culture.

With a large rural area, with a predominance of the scale sugar cane industry, it has a favorable climate for different types of culture, from the most common vegetables to regions where it is possible to find creations of mushrooms and blackberries (difficult to grow in most of the country. It also produces numerous handcrafted foods, with recipes originating in the European tradition, such as jellies, jams, sausages, cheeses and the like. In the urban area, it is possible to find countless families scattered around who produce and sell breads, sweets, cakes and chocolates in their homes as a source of income.

One can imagine that the population lives with a better quality of life when good habits are considered by many to be “old”, such as buying food at fairs frequently, eating less beef and having other options such as fish and pigs, for example. The region is nationally recognized for the large number of street food fairs that it promotes.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

The food system related to handcrafted products has shown an enormous potential for development over the period between 2019 and 2020. Focusing mainly on public development policies, artisan foods are positioned as an important food tool and income generation for the population due of Brazilian and global trends in favor of a consumption of minimally processed foods with greater appeals than simple nutritional function.

Currently, the challenges are still reflected in the visibility of this segment. On the one hand, despite its potential, the food retailer still views the mass industry as a certain and more loyal segment, without considering the risks that it has been promoting to the nutritional and cultural values of society. It is important to note that this same industry has been using this growing craft and local potential as a form of advertising. In Brazil, it is not difficult to find huge food industries selling food as “handcrafted”, in friendly packaging just to deceive the public. We must show what is really handmade. We must give visibility to the real food in its specifications and its real producers - people like us.

On the other hand, there is still a lack of information from producers regarding the opening of production. Some have no idea of the means of formalizing production - currently facilitated by economic incentive laws. Many do not have an efficient logistics that enables communication with retailers, or they know how to manage market operations. It is important to note that these producers know their products. Some of them have decades of production. However, they do not have the knowledge to remain in the market. That is, many artisanal foods found in the region are of exceptional quality, but do not have the link developed with the market.

In the future, we expect that these challenges will be overcome, enabling a strong link between such producers and retail, promoting a fluid means of consumption and a general awareness of food produced and consumed in a decentralized manner.

 However, future challenges will exist. In 2050, in a futuristic scenario, there will be a need to reconcile an even more technologically advanced environment with the maintenance of past traditions. Artisanal food preserves its value in contact with food, its history and its purest means of manipulation. For the future, we must ensure that these values are further promoted. Food must remain as natural and fair as possible regardless of how far society advances. Our fuel must stay clean.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

In the promoted view, we expect the consolidation of a fluid link between cottage food producers and food retailers, both in their physical and virtual conceptions. We hope that, despite maintaining simple and traditional characteristics of production, a technically viable means of structuring, training and logistical enables these foods a strong market insertion.

In relation to the visibility challenge, while structuring, encouraging production and marketing are encouraged to certain key producers in the region, a stimulus for the insertion of other products is promoted. The scalability of producers is expected while artisanal production proves to be a viable source of income for families in the region, in a sustainable operation with a circular and shared economy. Once stimulated and requested, the addition of new entrepreneurial families will enable a wide range of new foods, new brands and a strong production network. An opportunity not only for families, but also a position in the market for unemployed or retired people - great representatives of the Brazilian population.

Retail, in turn, benefits from stimulating the acquisition of food consumer goods from short-haul logistics. The purchase of products from short distances promotes not only the offer of items with greater freshness, but also lower logistical costs, quick replacement and of a socio-cultural nature, since it stimulates entrepreneurship and the development of small local producers. The retail, in its most diverse branches, becomes more sustainable.

In reference to future challenges, it is expected that the tradition of artisanal food manipulation is not seen as outdated, but an appreciation of the purest and most humane methods of food manipulation. Technology, in turn, however advanced in the future, is expected to be a faithful enabler of this market, enabling more agile means of production, maintaining quality and sales, for example. However, always maintaining the human character of these foods and their protagonists - the producers. In a brief comparison: however far we go in the future, the fertile soil of millions of years is what keeps us standing.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Imagine a society in which a considerable portion of its food comes from a structured and shared network between small family producers. Not thinking in isolation, but in the productive potential that many artisanal producers can promote. The low productive scale and the high quality of products are made possible by a systemic and united production of many. The production of artisanal foods, such as breads, sweets, cheeses, flour and beverages, for example, promotes an alternative income with greater added values for these small producers, whether rural or urban.

The designated micro-region would have a considerable increase in the number of entrepreneurs. New food brands, with highly nutritious and exclusive potentials from each region would be stimulated. People who have lost their jobs or are retired would have the possibility of a new income alternative. The rural exodus would decrease, promoting an income with higher added value than that generated by fruit and vegetables. Retailers would offer a new niche of products, which go against those traditionally traded processed foods. Training and technical assistance companies emerged with an emphasis on encouraging artisanal production. Research institutes and universities would promote case studies that would promote the scope of these new food networks. Municipal governments would be encouraged to enhance their local food production, promoting events, fairs and means of publicizing this segment. Banks and financing networks would be interested in stimulating this production, promoting assistance in structuring new producers, acting in sustainable micro-regional development. Consumers would have access to a wide range of foods, sourced locally, with high freshness, cultural potential and social responsibility. Consuming something produced locally would make more sense for a responsible society in the future.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

We want to fight for a future in which small food production - focusing on artisanal - gains a position of notoriety never seen before. We hope that it will be strengthened on a strong base of diverse interests and that it will enable a food transition to a simpler, more just and sustainable life.

As we do today, we could think of operating a robust business model that would provide a possible means of correcting the commercialization of artisanal foods. But we can think of something much more systemic in the future from this possible solution. And if we could insert this niche not only as an aggregate segment to the great Brazilian food system - or worldwide - but as a strong alternative bridge - or perhaps primary - between fresh and unprocessed food producers with food retail. What I want to say would be the promotion of an alternative route of food production, in direct contrast to the current route of the mass industry. Imagine that there was a full path of production of handmade and social foods. The food would again be culture. It is important to note that we do not aim at the end of the scale industry, since it is necessary to produce even inputs for the artisanal industry. However, we hope to propose this production alternative. An alternative to retail and especially to consumers. We hope to propose the choice to a food that not only quenches hunger but takes traces of cultures and traditions with it.

The challenge is great - perhaps a revolution. Imagine a food that could represent the environment of its origins. Something that in its ingredients convey the characteristics of a biome and direct preparation through the people who inhabit it. In addition, what about food that has not entered large containers or traveled long distances? - What would be the meaning of calling organic a food that traveled hundreds of kilometers in a big diesel truck? On the other hand, we hope to form short production runs, where the production and consumption of processed foods - artisanal - takes place in minutes.

Diets would be incorporated. The producers would be family - small companies that do not carry corporate content, but a complex range of human, social, cultural and even religious characteristics - imagine a food market made by people and for people. These are healthier foods, without the need for preservatives, colors or weird names in the composition. Imagine faithful breads that spoil in a short time - not those that last for months.

How about income? In Brazil, we have an unemployed population of more than 12 million people. In addition to a retired population - and with a high life expectancy - which represents almost 1/5 of the entire Brazilian population. Imagine the potential that such people would have to become protagonists of this systemic and integrated production of handicrafts. As a new food system strengthened, income would be generated, entrepreneurs would be created, municipal revenues would grow, and a more sustainable and inclusive economy would emerge.

As said, the culture would not only be rescued, but also intensified. Food would have the power to maintain traditions and even create them. A region that previously lacked any economic notoriety, could create a great geographical indication through the people and their new artisanal foods. The culture of each region would be promoted through its food. We would not only buy because we want to eat, but also because we understand that those foods have real and cultural significance. The food would not be made in presses, but by human hands. We expect a more conscious food culture that transfigures the history and future of a people through ingredients and methods of preparation.

Through artisanal food, we could propose a new appeal to technology. In the meaning of this word, we could do more using the same resources. But not assigning large machines or various chemical compounds to food. It is proposing operational and organizational technology. The technology of new forms of interaction, means of human relationships, marketing, distribution and sales. Keeping the core of traditional artisanal production, driven by updated and solid means of sustaining the market. It may seem antagonistic, but we use the comparison of conscious uses of the land and the production of fresh organic food and the most technological means for entering the market. In Brazil, the organic market grows about 20% per year. How about we do the same with our handicrafts?

And it is in politics that we must rely on. It is important to demonstrate the government's interest in small production and then in the so-called artisanal. In 2018 and 2019, something new happened in Brazil. Together with the Ministry of Agriculture, sectors of agricultural emphasis and micro-entrepreneurs promoted a national catalog of artisanal food producers, their products, characteristics and challenges. Despite initial steps, it demonstrates the importance that this sector has for all the complexity of the national economy. Artisanal food would be an effective means of generating jobs and preserving national sovereignty over food, since it is closely linked to the components of the country in which it is produced. In addition, there is a recurrent effort in Brazil to maintain policies for men in the countryside, a decisive actor in the maintenance of small rural properties. Rural exodus is a growing reality and we believe that artisanal foods would be a method of greater income generation and fixation in the countryside.

It is important to mention that despite the location chosen for implementing such an approach being Piracicaba, identified that, due to all the potential for income generation and micro-regional development, the propulsion of artisanal production could be established for different areas of activity, throughout the national territory or else, worldwide.

In the chosen area, there was a great development of sustainable food production. Incorporating NGOs in favor of organic and sustainable fresh food production (Rede Guandu), research institutes and universities focused on small production (USP-Esalq and Senac), retail institutions (Carrefour and Wallmart), government agencies (Secretariat of Agriculture) and agricultural communities (COOPs). Small production for the time being is mainly focused on organic food - especially fruits and vegetables - but we believe in the potential of using artisanal production as a driver for this spectrum of more sustainable, cultural and exclusive foods.

It is important to mention, in addition to any qualitative complex of artisanal production, quantitative data that emphasize the emergence and future permanence of sustainable food production for the next years and decades. In one of the most notorious ones carried out by the country - Brazil Food Trends 2020 - there was a realistic approach to trends that addressed mainly: the growing consumption of exclusive foods, new flavors and with extra appeals; healthier products, with less preservatives and additives; food ready for consumption and easy to assimilate; products with more sustainable guarantees of origin, geographical designations, traceability and logistics; and more sustainable food production, environmental and social seals, with ethical responsibilities over the entire production chain.

In addition, national surveys are cited (CNA / Senar, 2019; Nielsen, 2019; Mintel, 2019) that address a growing trend in the consumption of sustainable foods. In Brazil, this growth is around 12.7% per year. 73% of Brazilian millenials would pay more for food of a sustainable nature. 8 out of 10 of our consumers believe that artisanal foods are healthier, more sustainable and fairer. And in comparative terms, and futurecasting, the United States presents an organic food market of around US $ 50 Billion, in which US $ 20 billion related to artisanal production - cottage industry. In Brazil, the organic market (2019) was US $ 1 billion and growth of 20% per year. There is still no mapping of the current value of the artisanal food market. By 2050, we expect the potential for organic and also artisanal representation to be as great as those already demonstrated by North American markets.

There is already a growing international market in this segment, and we believe in the potential of the Brazilian nation to be the protagonist of the country's cultural food outlook by 2050. In an intense capillarity of interested parties, involving both farmers producing inputs, artisanal producers, retailers of different sizes and able consumers, we can promote a renewal of the systemic architecture of the transit of raw materials and ready-to-eat foods, without the large-scale industry remain the protagonist. With the help of governments, NGOs, cooperatives, research and training institutes, we are able to promote a new parameter of food production in the region.

By uniting the local community of small producers, understanding their needs, histories and ambitions, we can make local society a hybrid being of production, consumption and cultural impetus. We hope that this notion permeates throughout the territory, inspiring other regions in favor of family and artisanal food production, enabling a strong channel with retail and enabling the spread of all the benefits of having something really fresh, true, healthy on your table, fair and loaded with human emotions.

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Hi Lucas Vitti ,

A final reminder the final deadline to publish your currently unpublished submission to the Prize is less than 4 hours away Please click "Publish" at the top of your submission before January 31, 2020 @ 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time to ensure submission is eligible for the Prize.

As you refine your submission in the final hours, feel free to refer to this Food System Vision Prize Pocket Guide: