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Mercato Metropolitano: Sustainable Community Food Market

To create truly sustainable food markets that shorten the food value chain, celebrate communities and promote urban renewal.

Photo of Nicholas Panayi
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Lead Applicant Organization Name

Mercato Metropolitano

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Large company (over 50 employees)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

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

  • 3-10 years

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


Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


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

Various locations in Greater London Area. Primary location: Elephant & Castle, London

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Mercato Metropolitano, centrally located in London's south-east Elephant & Castle, is the city’s first sustainable community market focused on revitalising neighbourhoods and protecting the environment. MM, launched in 2016, attracts up to 60,000 people a week to a part of the city that previously had little footfall. We aim to educate urban dwellers and encourage them to support their local and communities and small-scale producers while at the same time protecting the environment by focusing on what and how they eat.

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.

Our sustainable community market has incubated more than 100 food and beverage businesses and is home to a delicatessen with sustainably sourced products from local farmers and artisans, a unique cinema experience, a communal kitchen and several circular economy concepts including a Bavarian micro-brewery, a hydroponics farm, a mushroom garden using spent coffee grounds and a vertical garden in a double-decker bus, a program for artists, musicians, local markets, to name a few.

The MM ecosystem is inspired by a passion to create the first truly sustainable and inclusive community market. MM brings together natural, traceable and unadulterated food, presented on recycled, simple and natural serving-ware. Our focus is on the products, artisan producers and customers rather than on luxurious settings.

MM is not only a new model of food market, it is an urban destination bringing together community events, music, urban farming, incubation spaces for start-ups and an array of specialty ingredients from across the world. We are refining a sustainable business model that aims to shorten the food value chain and celebrate food as an important catalyst for conviviality and social cohesion, in a quest to help build inclusive local communities, contribute to economic development and help with the regeneration of declining urban areas.

MM defines a new socio-economic business model which brings back the role of a Company to the centre of the community: People first, Value creation vs value extraction, stakeholders vs shareholders.

MM is proud to be accredited by the Living Wage Foundation as an official Living Wage Employer. The campaign for a Living Wage was launched by members of London Citizens in 2001.

We are also proud to announce that in 2019 Mercato Metropolitano became a signatory member of the United Nations Global Compact (UNCG). This enables us to support the advancement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).

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 challenges that big cities such as London are facing are multidimensional and the fostering of better, more supportive and nature-friendly dwelling spaces require the collective effort and will of all stakeholders such as governments, both the public and private sectors, academic institutions, and every person living in the community. Thus, the importance of community cohesion in tackling this challenge for the Third Millennium needs a strong catalyst; a catalyst that is universally recognised. Good, natural and adequate food is one such universal catalyst, it transcends all boundaries, all classes and all groups of people.

Our vision for Mercato Metropolitano is to create a movement; a true revolution in the relationship between the city, its citizens and the entire food supply chain. It is in this sense that the food-centric MMovement knows no boundaries and becomes an important socio-economic project for people with people.

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

Over the last years, Mercato Metropolitano has taken great strides to deliver on this vision. We have broadened our network and increased our engagement with the local community, delivering a considerable number of programmes including free cookery classes for approximately 1,000 local people, a competition to select and incubate a female food entrepreneur, a 6-week long summer holiday programme for 350 children affected by food insecurity and a number of projects to support the

integration of refugees into host communities. In the same year, we have also implemented a number of circular economy initiatives, including a zero-to-landfill waste management system through our partnership with Paper Round and a circular economy brewery. This relies on a proprietary water purification technology where we use mineralised water partly for the brewing process and partly as drinking water served in glass bottles, thus removing single use plastics from our site completely and saving over 50,000 plastic bottles and containers in 2018.

We will continue carrying out our Vision into 2050 by creating responsible approaches to producing and consuming food, we can lower our environmental impact, reduce our carbon footprint and focus on reducing, reusing and recycling. Achieving these objectives in an era of globalisation, in growing cities like London, is challenging but possible. Moreover, we will continue building communities through a diverse range of events, workshops, and cookery classes. We aim to continue providing support to entrepreneurs and incubate start-ups to break down barriers and build a thriving economy.

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.

The ultimate mission at MM is to create a movement that guarantees everyone the Right to Food: access to nutritious, affordable and culturally compatible food, while promoting unsophisticated and sustainable produce. A clear understanding and mastery of the complexity of a food system within a populous city, as well as the central importance of a circular system that recycles and reuses energy and resources, will enable a city like London to sustain itself over time.

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

Today’s society is facing an increasingly urgent environmental crisis. Global warming and an increasing loss of biodiversity are threatening our planet, non-renewable energies are still our largest resource and pollution has deteriorated our air, soils and oceans. At the same time, the global population continues to increase, expected to reach approximately nine billion by 2050.

Many initiatives are emerging from these crises, and flourishing, by promoting a responsible approach and attitude to producing and consuming food in a way that lowers our environmental impact, reduces our carbon footprint and focuses on reusing and recycling.

MM strongly believes that we can – together – transform today’s large metropolises into sustainable communities and contribute to food autonomy, through urban renewal, balanced diets and natural crop growth.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Website
  • word of mouth

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Andrea Vaz-König

Hi Nicholas! Wow, I love your project and we look forward to deep dive into your vision! All the best!