However, many urban areas in the world are secondary cities, in particular smaller towns and cities. There is no universally agreed definition for the term “secondary city”, although most of the literature agrees that they form part of the order or systems of cities in a country or a global system of cities. Secondary cities play a very important functional role, depending on whether they are considered as part of a country- or global-level system of cities. Secondary cities are thus not primary cities, nor are they likely to be small cities with populations of less than 100,000, but they are everything in between.

Some towns are experiencing decline in population, while others are going through a rapid growth. These towns and cities that are growing are where opportunities lie to include food systems into their urban development. Megacities and large metropolitan areas certainly have their own challenges in terms of food security and food systems, but they tend to attract investments and political attention (most are capital cities) compared to secondary cities.