Food supply and distribution are complex systems of activities, functions and relations (production, handling, storage, transport, process, package, wholesale, retail, etc.) enabling populations to meet their food requirements. These activities are performed by different actors: producers, assemblers, importers, transporters, wholesalers, retailers, processors, shopkeepers, street vendors, service providers (credit, storage, porterage, information and extension), packaging suppliers, public institutions (e.g. city and local governments, public food marketing boards, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Transport) and private associations (e.g. traders, transporters, shopkeepers and consumers).
These actors need infrastructure, facilities, services and laws as well as formal and informal regulations to govern their decisions, where each element influences other elements in a system of cause and effect, and reciprocal relationships.
The goal of food distribution is not only to connect the producers, such as farmers and fishermen, to consumers, but also to allocate food accordingly. Challenges arise in deciding how the food will be distributed among the people, who has the power of distribution, and what methods should be used for distribution.