Article

Comparing domestic versus imported apples: A focus on energy use. Environ. Sci. Pollut. Res. 14(5), 338-344

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Abstract

The issue of whether food miles are a relevant indicator for the environmental impacts associated with foods has received significant attention in recent years. It is suggested here that issues other than the distance travelled need to be considered. The argument is presented by illustrating the case for the provision of apples. The effects of variability in primary energy requirements for apple cultivation and for other life cycle stages, seasonality (timing of consumption) and loss of produce during storage are studied in this paper, by comparing apples from different supplier countries for consumption in Europe. Data sources for primary energy use (PEU) of apple production are identified ranging from 0.4-3.8 MJ/kg apples for European and Southern American countries and 0.4-0.7 MJ/kg for New Zealand. This variability is related to different yields and producer management practices in the different countries. Storage loss may range from 5% to 40% for storage periods between 4 and 10 months, and this has a significant effect on the results (e.g. increasing the total PEU by 8-16% when stored for 5-9 months in Europe as compared with a no loss and no storage situation). The storage periods and related storage losses change markedly through the year for imported (i.e. non-European) versus European apples. The timing of consumption and related storage losses need to be included in the assessment, as this affects the order of preference for locally sourced versus imported apples. The variability in energy requirements in different life cycle stages, but particularly for the fruit production stage, is also significant in this comparative analysis. Overall, it seems that there are similarities in the total PEU ranges for European and New Zealand apples during the Southern Hemisphere's apple season (European spring and summer). However, during the European autumn and winter (Northern Hemisphere apple season) PEU values are generally higher for apples imported from the Southern Hemisphere compared with European apples consumed in Europe. However, this latter observation may not hold true where apples for consumption in one European country are imported from another European country, because energy use for road transportation has a significant influence on the result. Future studies comparing alternative sources of fresh produce need to account for ranges of data for the fruit production and storage stages, which reflect the seasonality of production.

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... It is important to note that this method of estimating total energy per hectare is preferred over energy use per output (for instance per kilogram) as the majority of available studies investigate energy use per hectare and not per output and as such, despite variations in yields per country, we consider such an estimation more reliable. Except for the cases of wheat where we consider that there is enough data to present data in terms of energy inputs per hectare and per kilogram of output and the case of apples which are depicted according to GJ per tonne as the EU averages provided by Canals et al. (2007) are according to GJ per tonne of production [36]. Our results section presents the results from this meta-analysis, for a more detailed data breakdown per crop and category and specific data sources please refer to the Appendix. ...
... It is important to note that this method of estimating total energy per hectare is preferred over energy use per output (for instance per kilogram) as the majority of available studies investigate energy use per hectare and not per output and as such, despite variations in yields per country, we consider such an estimation more reliable. Except for the cases of wheat where we consider that there is enough data to present data in terms of energy inputs per hectare and per kilogram of output and the case of apples which are depicted according to GJ per tonne as the EU averages provided by Canals et al. (2007) are according to GJ per tonne of production [36]. Our results section presents the results from this meta-analysis, for a more detailed data breakdown per crop and category and specific data sources please refer to the Appendix. ...
... Apple trees are the dominant type of orchard in the EU, covering around 473,500 ha. Canals et al. (2007) finds that the range of MJ per kg of apple produced in the EU ranges from 0.4 to 2 MJ with a mean of 1.2 MJ [36]. This is in line with other studies from around the world which find 0.9-1.1 MJ/kg for the US [36] and 1.2 MJ/kg for Switzerland. ...
Article
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This study conducts a review of energy use in the EU greenhouse agriculture sector. The studies presented illustrate that energy use in greenhouses is varied and generally dependent on fossil sources. High energy systems, which are more dominant in northern Europe, are generally heavily climate controlled and energy use is dominated by heating and cooling processes, while low energy systems, which are dominant in southern Europe, show a mixture of energy uses including heating, cooling, irrigation, lighting, fertilisers, and pesticides. Our review also provides a discussion of energy efficiency measures and renewable energy sources adoption for greenhouse production. Finally, our review indicates that accurate and reliable studies on energy use in greenhouse production are scarce and fragmented and that a range of differing methodologies are currently used to estimate on-farm energy use. The development of a comprehensive methodology and categorisation for measuring energy use in greenhouse agricultural production would, in our view, catalyse further studies in this sector, considerably improve our understanding of energy use in greenhouses and support the green transition. Based on this, this paper proposes a basic framework for measuring energy use in greenhouse agriculture.
... The few studies which combine different sustainability-related aspects (i.e., local and organic production) assessed consumer preferences for the different options by means of a choice-based conjoint (CBC) analysis [5,29]. While limited, the number of studies that investigate the choice of in-season food exclusively or in combination with organic or local food choices do demonstrate the relevance of considering this combination of attributes for a sustainable food choice [1,30,31]. As such, the study of Foster et al. [31] claims that a strong focus on seasonality exclusively is unlikely to deliver large environmental benefits. ...
... Researchers such as Lazzarini et al. [32] and Aldaya et al. [33], among others, emphasize that a focus on local food alone is insufficient to reduce environmental impacts. Consequentially, to reduce environmental impacts regarding the primary energy use (PEU) [30] and water use [31], it is relevant to consider both locality and seasonality in the food choice [28,33]. With this study, we thus want to bridge this research gap and identify which motives are relevant to drive a consumer's preference for and choices of food that is local compared to food that is both local and in-season (and thus more environmentally sustainable). ...
... The overall environmental performance of local seasonal food depends upon the selection of indicators under research (i.e., PEU, footprints of water, land, material use, and carbon, as well as emission intensity) [5]. As such, the study of Canals et al. [30] found that, in the case of apples, there is little difference in the PEU of a seasonal imported apple and a non-seasonal domestic apple due to storage loss. Furthermore, Brooks et al. [27] highlight that low production standards of a product produced in season can result in higher environmental impacts compared to state-of-the-art non-seasonal production. ...
Article
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Local seasonal food choices are environmentally relevant behaviors and a promising opportunity for enhancing sustainable food consumption. Therefore, we need a more integrated understanding of motives driving consumers to opt for food that is produced locally and also in its natural growing season. The aim of this study is to (i) identify which motives for local food choices are also relevant for local seasonal food choices and (ii) investigate whether environmental motives become (more) relevant for these environmentally friendly choices. To assess consumer perceptions of socioeconomic, health, and environmental aspects, a survey in combination with a choice-based conjoint experiment to measure consumer preferences for seasonal (apples) and non-seasonal choices (tomatoes) was conducted. The data were collected by means of an online-panel survey (n = 499) and analyzed using two structural equation models. Results revealed that while the support of the local economy presents the most relevant driver, consumers’ price sensibility is even more relevant as a barrier. What differs is the relevance of authenticity and local identity. While local seasonal food provides environmental benefits to consumers, these benefits have no implications for the relevance of environmental motives. Based on these findings, we derive evidence-based recommendations for policymakers and marketers and propositions for future research regarding additional drivers and barriers for local seasonal food consumption.
... Results from Blanke and Burdick [20] for an apple supply chain confirmed the findings of Carlsson-Kanyama et al. [16]: German domestic apples were found to require less primary energy than imported produce. In the UK, however, researchers could not find clear support that a local supply of apples was superior to a European or Southern Hemisphere supply [21]. Lamb grown in New Zealand and then imported to Germany was claimed to have lower energy inputs than lamb produced in Germany [5]. ...
... Third, the energy associated with the transportation of finished products, as well as product storage at different buildings, is notably less important in the case of shoes as compared to other studies focusing on agricultural products [20,21,32]. The main difference is that many agricultural products must be refrigerated; thus, refrigeration of vehicles, warehouses and retail shops results in greater energy consumption for agricultural products than for shoes. ...
... The case study results can be compared to some of the previous studies discussed in the literature review. In fact, many food-related studies have also found imported products to be superior to domestically produced products from an energy performance perspective [5,6,19,[21][22][23][24][25]. Obviously, energy comparisons between different studies need to be treated with caution due to potential differences in systems boundaries, assumptions made in the work, and data sources used. ...
Article
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The purpose of this paper is to investigate how nearby sourcing versus long-distance sourcing affects the ecological friendliness—operationalized in terms of energy efficiency—of a supply chain for a non-food item in a developing country. Using case research, we show that the average energy needed to supply a pair of imported shoes to a retailer in Morocco is less than the average energy needed to supply a pair of locally produced shoes. These findings highlight the need to assess the true total energy effects of nearby sourcing versus long-distance sourcing since the outcomes of such assessments may be more complicated than they appear upon first glance, particularly in developing countries.
... It is important to note that this method of estimating total energy per hectare is preferred over energy use per output (for instance per kilogram) as the majority of available studies investigate energy use per hectare and not per output and as such, despite variations in yields per country, we consider such an estimation more reliable. Except for the cases of wheat where we consider that there is enough data to present data in terms of energy inputs per hectare and per kilogram of output and the case of apples which are depicted according to GJ per tonne as the EU averages provided by Canals et al. (2007) are according to GJ per tonne of production [36]. Our results section presents the results from this meta-analysis, for a more detailed data breakdown per crop and category and specific data sources please refer to the Appendix. ...
... It is important to note that this method of estimating total energy per hectare is preferred over energy use per output (for instance per kilogram) as the majority of available studies investigate energy use per hectare and not per output and as such, despite variations in yields per country, we consider such an estimation more reliable. Except for the cases of wheat where we consider that there is enough data to present data in terms of energy inputs per hectare and per kilogram of output and the case of apples which are depicted according to GJ per tonne as the EU averages provided by Canals et al. (2007) are according to GJ per tonne of production [36]. Our results section presents the results from this meta-analysis, for a more detailed data breakdown per crop and category and specific data sources please refer to the Appendix. ...
... Apple trees are the dominant type of orchard in the EU, covering around 473,500 ha. Canals et al. (2007) finds that the range of MJ per kg of apple produced in the EU ranges from 0.4 to 2 MJ with a mean of 1.2 MJ [36]. This is in line with other studies from around the world which find 0.9-1.1 MJ/kg for the US [36] and 1.2 MJ/kg for Switzerland. ...
Article
This review combines results from a large number of studies investigating energy use in EU open-field agriculture, providing an overview of energy use and its concentrations. Such a review and its findings are important as it informs stakeholders and policymakers with evidence for supporting a green energy transition in open-field agriculture. Our review indicates that annual energy use in EU open-field agriculture is at least 1431 PJ, equivalent to around 3.7% of total EU annual energy consumption, with the majority of energy sourced from non-renewable energy sources. Our meta-analysis finds that the production of fertilizer is the largest energy consuming activity in EU agriculture, accounting for around 50% of all energy inputs. On-farm diesel use accounts for 31% of total energy inputs, while the production pesticides and seeds accounts for 5% of total energy inputs. Other energy uses, mainly irrigation, storage and drying, account for 8% of total energy inputs. This suggests that energy use in EU agriculture is significantly underreported and that around 55% of total energy inputs, associated with the production of fertilizers and pesticides, come from indirect sources which can be assigned to the agricultural sector but is used prior to reaching farms. The importance and potential of various fossil-energy-free technologies and strategies are discussed. In addition, this review highlights that in the medium and long term there is need for the development and application of detailed and standardized methodologies for energy use analysis of agricultural systems, as well as for meta-analyses investigating energy use in agriculture.
... contribution in the order of 70% for climate change impacts). This has also been demonstrated in similar works on energy balances (Blanke and Burdick, 2005;Mil a i Canals et al., 2007). ...
... In addition, Mundler and Rumpus (2012) showed that there is an important potential for logistical optimization in local food chains. Finally, Mil a i Canals et al. (2007) stressed that it is difficult to make general recommendations because of the variability in data and characteristics of these different food supply chains. For instance, the average distance travelled in French SFSCs is 70 km, with a standard deviation of 109 km (Vaillant et al., 2017). ...
Article
There is growing interest in re-localization and re-connection of agriculture and food consumption, and Short Food Supply Chains (SFSCs) are becoming more and more popular. However, there are few studies on their environmental performance. Existing studies focus primarily on comparing imports and domestic consumption, often according to a single environmental criterion (i.e., energy or carbon footprint), without considering the great diversity of subnational commercialization patterns. This paper aims at assessing the environmental sustainability of different archetypes of food supply chains, from global ones to short ones, to identify hotspots and discuss the conditions under which a given supply chain performs better than another one. The overall methodology is based on a full Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) with a focus on a fresh and unprocessed product: apples purchased in an urban area. First, a consistent definition and classification of supply chains, is provided based on geographical and organizational features. An innovative approach is then developed to compute logistics data representative of these supply chains, using Geographic Information System tools. Finally, a comparison of the environmental performances of archetypes of apple supply chains is provided. The results show the relatively good environmental performance of the national long food supply chain which is used as the reference scenario in this study. Moreover, there are great differences in the environmental performance of SFSCs. Direct off-farm sales have the same level of performance as the reference. On the other hand, direct on-farm sales can be very impactful. Results also highlight the impacts of the final consumer trip which are significant and highly variable, depending on consumer-retailer distance, weight of apples purchased, and transport means used. This variability leads to reconsidering the questions frequently asked in LCAs of systems with extreme sensitivity to highly variable parameters. The concern is no longer whether one scenario is better than another, but to determine the values of those parameters that allow for better performance. Focusing on these parameters has direct implications in terms of decision-making by providing straightforward results with operational recommendations that are understandable to the general public, and not only LCA indicators.
... It was initially proposed as an indicator for sustainable development in the UK, and encapsulates the idea that environmental impacts are related to the distance that foods travel from the point of production to point of consumption (McLaren 2009). This concept has been critiqued in a number of studies (including Kemp et al. 2010;McLaren 2009;Milà i Canals et al. 2007), and used as an indicator of the environmental impact of products (Feagan 2007;Grebitus et al. 2013;Nakata 2005). ...
... However, there are risks that individual local food movements may lead to outcomes that are inconsistent with their intentions. In particular, local food may not be associated with more environmentally sustainable food items, as it may disregard other factors in the life cycle of food products that contribute to their environmental profiles (such as efficiency of energy use and release of pollutants into the environment during production) (Edwards-Jones et al. 2008;McLaren 2009;Milà i Canals et al. 2007;Smith et al. 2005). Use of a more comprehensive approach such as Life Cycle Assessment, that takes into account a wide range of environmental impacts associated with the life cycle of the food, may provide a more suitable basis for informing consumers about the environmental sustainability of their food purchases (Edwards-Jones et al. 2008;McLaren 2009) as opposed to a focus solely on local food. ...
Article
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Local food is a popular subject among consumers, as well as food producers, distributors, policymakers and researchers in many countries. Previous research has identified that the definition of local food varies by context, and from country to country. The literature also suggested that environmental sustainability is one of the goals for many of the local food movements. While there is a substantial body of literature on local food internationally, limited research has been undertaken in New Zealand. This paper aims to understand how consumers define local food, what attributes they associate with local food, and the extent to which life cycle-based environmental aspects are represented in these attributes. Primary research employed quantitative methodology. This study identified that a majority of the respondents considered that local food may be defined as food that was produced in New Zealand and that support for community was the most important attribute associated with local food. Reduced GHG emission, conserving the landscape, and organic production were the life cycle-based environmental attributes that were associated with local food. This study provides a basis for further research into understandings of local food in New Zealand and how to improve communication among different social actors with respect to demand and supply of local food.
... Also, Van Hauwermeiren et al. [4] find a large difference in energy use and resulting carbon emissions between imported versus domestic food, but highlight that consumers' purchasing behavior and in-season production also play an important role for emissions. Other authors also conclude that seasonality is an important element when comparing GHG emissions, as their findings suggest that the duration and form of storage between production and consumption have large impacts on total emissions [5,6]. By applying general equilibrium modeling, Avetisyan et al. [7] highlight that differences in regional emission intensities related to on-farm production of ruminant livestock have a much bigger impact on global GHG emissions than changes in transport-related emissions. ...
... However, the maximum distance at which a product changes from being "local" to being "global" is not clearly defined. In some studies, local food refers to food that has been grown within a country's boundaries and global food refers to imported products [6,52]. In other cases, "local" food is defined as food that is grown and consumed within a county [8], or that is marketed through a short supply chain, such as a farm shop, a farmers' market or a CSA (community-supported agriculture) system [4,53]. ...
Article
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The sustainability of food value chains is an increasing concern for consumers, food companies and policy-makers. Global food chains are often perceived to be less sustainable than local food chains. Yet, thorough food chain analyses and comparisons of different food chains across sustainability dimensions are rare. In this article we analyze the local Belgian and global Peruvian asparagus value chains and explore their sustainability performance. A range of indicators linked to environmental, economic and social impacts is calculated to analyze the contribution of the supply chains to economic development, resource use, labor relations, distribution of added value and governance issues. Our findings suggest that none of the two supply chains performs invariably better and that there are trade-offs among and between sustainability dimensions. Whereas the global chain uses water and other inputs more intensively and generates more employment per unit of land and higher yields, the local chain generates more revenue per unit of land.
... It was also argued that losses may increase linearly up to 25% after 10 months storage. Moreover, the need of storage is dependent on the specific product (Milà i Canals et al., 2007). Decisions about crop scheduling, agro-chemical applications and harvest time in future production scenarios (further discussed below) are relevant to optimize yield and with minimal environmental footprints. ...
... To reduce the environmental impacts of producing and supplying fresh apples, it was recommended that local sourcing should be promoted. Similarly, domestically produced apples were preferred, especially when there is in-season production in a purchasing country that allows storage for a shorter period of time (less than 4 months) (Milà i Canals et al., 2007;Sim et al., 2007). In the same manner, local sourcing and home-grown production were reported as the most efficient options, followed by national sourcing and then the imported product (Jones, 2002;Kooijman, 1993). ...
Article
This study discusses importance of assessing environmental sustainability of fruits and vegetable (F&V) production sector in future climate change (CC) scenarios. For the current production scenario, life cycle environmental footprints of F&V supply chain are discussed considering the influences of: agro-climates, production systems, raw material inputs, post-harvest managements to the products' yield and quality. Potential risks of CC to the sector are discussed in the context of elevated global temperature and carbon dioxide level, ozone depletion and changes in precipitation patterns. Potential risks due to CC are on the productivity and the quality of F&V products, such as texture, color, maturity and nutrients. Increased risk of failure of the current crop protection strategies, e.g. due to pest infestations and different crop-water and nutrient stresses are among the short and long-term risks. It also discusses potential adaptation and mitigation measures to CC, and therefrom argues on the related environmental consequences in the supply chain. From the LCA studies, it was revealed that environmental impacts of F&V supply chain varied as per agro-ecological characteristics and farming systems, e.g. greenhouse vs open-field, organic vs conventional, and grown in different agro-climatic conditions. The nexus among the climatic stresses, potential adaptation and mitigation measures, hence were in the form of potential changes in the raw material inputs and resource flows depending on the preferred future agro-management strategies and farming practices. Adaptation and other management options, included are, changes in: crop calendar, nutrient and pest management strategies, post-harvest handling and improved preservation of F&V products. These are argued eventually being determining factors leading to different environmental footprints compared to the existing management scenarios. Prospective life cycle environmental evaluation of F&V supply chain considering the relationship among product yield and qualities, CC stresses and potential adaptation and mitigation measures is thus a new thrust and direction.
... Although a body of literature exists on this topic, most studies provide only vague data on or insufficient explanations of the technology, materials, and energy used in the post-harvest period. For example, only few of them provide information or data on the technology of the cooling systems for the conservation of the produce and relatively few studies (Fakouri et al., 2008;Frater, 2010;Longo et al., 2017;Mil a i Canals et al., 2007) mentioned which conservation technology had been modeled. Moreover, no or only scant information is provided on the type of packaging (Blanke and Burdick, 2005;Keyes et al., 2015;McLaren et al., 2010), and usually only one type of packaging was analyzed (Cerutti et al., 2011a;Fakouri et al., 2008;Frater, 2010;Longo et al., 2017;Mil a i Canals et al., 2007;Sessa et al., 2014). ...
... For example, only few of them provide information or data on the technology of the cooling systems for the conservation of the produce and relatively few studies (Fakouri et al., 2008;Frater, 2010;Longo et al., 2017;Mil a i Canals et al., 2007) mentioned which conservation technology had been modeled. Moreover, no or only scant information is provided on the type of packaging (Blanke and Burdick, 2005;Keyes et al., 2015;McLaren et al., 2010), and usually only one type of packaging was analyzed (Cerutti et al., 2011a;Fakouri et al., 2008;Frater, 2010;Longo et al., 2017;Mil a i Canals et al., 2007;Sessa et al., 2014). Furthermore, aggregated results are normally given (Keyes et al., 2015;McLaren et al., 2010, Longo et al., 2017, Cerutti et al., 2011b, a fact that does not allow to distinguish the contribution of the individual steps. ...
... This idea is associated with the concept of food miles which states that the longer the journey of food from the farm to the table, the greater its environmental impact (Kemp et al., 2010). However, other authors suggest that changes in consumption behavior (Weber and Matthews, 2008), and the reduction of the storage period (Mil a i Canals et al., 2007) are also effective measures for impact reduction. ...
... On this matter, it should be noted that the UK has a tariff system that favors countries that produce counter-seasonally, reducing to 0% the general tariff between April and July for the varieties of fresh apples (UK Government Digital Service, 2020). In this sense, the idea of some authors who propose the concept of "food miles" (Paxton, 1994) as a determining factor in the trading of fruit in the United Kingdom is not consistent with the reality of the market and the preference of consumers, who value the possibility of choosing varied products throughout the year (Mil a i Canals et al., 2007). On the other hand, the commercial dependence of the United Kingdom on countries in the southern hemisphere makes it difficult to think about the application of non-tariff measures related to specific regulations for maritime transport and their impact on CO 2 e emissions. ...
Article
The product carbon footprint (CF) has been raised as an environmental indicator to estimate the sum and removals of GHG emissions, expressed as CO2 equivalents (CO2e), based on a life cycle assessment. Mainly, the measurement of the CF of fruits has been focused on different separate stages with reduced integration of the entire supply chain because data come from different sources at the global fruit market. The main objective of this study is to estimate the CF of the entire supply chain of exported Chilean apple from agricultural production to the UK consumer's door. The results indicate that the Chilean apple presents GHG emissions of 0.54 kg CO2e/kg apple. The ocean freight is a hot spot that determines the performance of the CF of exported apple with a contribution of 39.2%. Finally, the importance of carrying out these types of studies covering the entire supply chain is emphasized, to provide public and private agents with accurate information and help them make the right decisions. In this way, the misuse of concepts—such as food miles—by interest groups in society is prevented, thus avoiding distortion in the fresh fruit trade.
... Unfortunately, researchers have different opinions regarding how to define local food [6][7][8][9]. Worse still, existing studies have been glutted with opposite arguments on whether local food really has advantages [7,[10][11][12][13][14]. Without clarifying these fundamental issues, it could be hard to position local food campaigns in a globalization context. ...
... Accordingly, consumers enthusiastic for locally-produced food or food with a clear regional provenance are willing to pay a price premium [6], and in the meantime, farmers are adding value and retaining a bigger slice of the retail price [7]. However, whereas some of the strengths of local food have been well accepted by the research community, others have received much criticism [7,[10][11][12][13][14]. Therefore, the exploration of the strengths of local food has to be accompanied by careful interpretation. ...
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As a basic commodity, food has undergone thorough globalization, with the global food market totaling 1392 billion USD in 2019. Despite such a great amount of global food trade, the idea of favouring the consumption of local food, or local food campaigns, has won ever growing attention and advocacy in recent years as an effort to enhance social and environmental sustainability. This systematic review study draws wisdom from the extant literature and provides critical thinking on how local food differs from non-local food and whether the two are more antagonistic or more complementary. Results suggest that although the term “local food” has hardly been clearly defined, it is possible to accommodate different opinions in a set of common constructs in Eriksen’s “three domains of proximity”. Regarding the strengths of local food, researchers agree more on its strong personal connection, distinctive culture, and high quality, but less on its supporting local economy, reduced energy consumption, and environmental friendliness. Meanwhile, local food has its current weaknesses in terms of higher price and unsuccessful information communication; however, these are not without solutions. Overall, while food localization and globalization differ in purpose, they can well co-exist, promote collaboration rather than confrontation, and together accelerate the sustainable growth of the food market.
... Similarly, other authors identified only minor greenhouse gas reductions with the localization of food consumed in the United States (Cleveland et al., 2011;Weber & Matthews, 2008). Nevertheless, our respondents' perceptions were in line with findings by Milà i Canals, Cowell, Sim, and Basson (2007) that domestic apples lead to lower energy use in autumn and winter. Similarly, other studies showed that, when in season, locally produced apples have lower environmental impacts (Keyes, Tyedmers, & Beazley, 2015;Sim et al., 2006). ...
Article
Sustainability is becoming increasingly important in consumers’ food choices. Although consumers are known to rely on certain strategies for choosing sustainable food, such as preferring local and organic products, the extent to which these strategies affect the sustainability assessment of foods remains unknown. In an online experiment with 305 respondents from the German-speaking Swiss population, we examined how consumers evaluated the sustainability of foods that differed by production country, labelling and seasonality. Participants rated bell peppers, apples, coffee, peppermint tea and sugar on both their environmental impact and social sustainability. Swiss products (i.e. pepper, apple and peppermint tea) were rated more positively on both factors than products from other countries, and distance to the production country seemed to partly influence perceptions of both environmental impacts and social sustainability. The presence of either organic or fair-trade labels significantly decreased the perceived environmental impact and increased the perceived social benefits of both coffee and sugar. No significant differences were found between the labels regarding the foods’ perceived environmental impact, but the products’ social sustainability perception differed between the two labels. Seasonality had a significant but minor effect on the perceived environmental impact. To conclude, Swiss consumers mainly relied on an ‘our own country is best’ heuristic and on sustainability labels to evaluate the environmental impact and social sustainability of food products. While this strategy can result in rather accurate sustainability estimations, it can also result in systematic mistakes. It is recommended to address these misconceptions to enable consumers to make better sustainable food choices.
... There are several examples in the literature of similar supply chain analyses being applied to fresh food products [25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35]. Most of them are specific to European markets and do not include oranges. ...
Article
Full-text available
Agriculture is one of the most impactful ways that we interact with the environment. Food demand is expected to increase 70% by 2050 as a result of population growth and the emergence of the global middle class. Meeting the expected demand in a sustainable manner will require an integrated systems-level approach to food production and supply. We present a conceptual framework for estimating the cradle-to-market life-cycle seasonal greenhouse gas emissions impact of fresh produce commodities, including the production, post-harvest processing, packaging, and transportation stages. Using oranges as a case study, we estimate the carbon footprint per kilogram of fruit delivered to wholesale market in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta and assess the relative importance of transportation mode, transportation distance (i.e. localness), and seasonality. We find that the cradle-to-market carbon footprint of oranges delivered to US cities can vary by more than a factor of two, depending on the production origin (e.g. 0.3 kgCO 2 e/kg for Californian oranges delivered to New York City versus 0.7 kgCO 2 e/kg for Mexican oranges delivered to New York City). The transportation mode was found to have a significant impact on the results; transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions associated with oranges trucked from Mexico to New York City were found to be six times higher than those transported by containership from Chile, in spite of traveling less than half the distance. Seasonality had a moderate impact on the results and varied depending on the destination city; based on our cradle-to-market analysis, the average carbon footprint of ‘out-of-season’ oranges relative to ‘in-season’ oranges increased by 51%, 46%, 14%, and 24% for Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City, respectively. This study highlights the value of regionally-specific carbon footprinting for fresh produce and the need for a consistent and standardized data reporting framework for agricultural systems.
... Cone and Myhre, 2000;Hinrichs, 2000;King, 2008;O'Neill, 2014;Forssell and Lankoski, 2015 Food storage and preparation: The dietary guidelines make recommendations to avoid resource-intensive food storage of cold chain items and high-energy preparation, such as the use of a microwave. Lado and Yousef, 2002;Wood and Newborough, 2003;Canals et al., 2007;Zanoni and Zavanella, 2012;Lelieveld et al., 2015;Li et al., 2017;van Holsteijn and Kemna, 2018 Food advertising: The dietary guidelines recognizes the role of food advertising and marketing on food choices. Vermeir and Verbeke, 2006;Friedmann, 2007;Dodds et al., 2008;Vogt and Kaiser, 2008;Magnus et al., 2009;Macrae et al., 2012;Grunert et al., 2014;Kemps et al., 2014 HUMAN HEALTH DIMENSION Dietary diversity: The dietary guidelines promote dietary diversity to reduce risk of nutrient deficiencies. ...
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... To bylo provedeno zvýšením hodnoty referenčního toku jablek v případě doby po delším skladování. První výraznější ztráty způsobené skladováním jsou patrné až po čtyřech měsících (Mila i Canals et al., 2007). Jelikož zvolená funkční jednotka je 1 t jablek, je třeba s narůstající dobou uskladnění, v závislosti na které narůstají i ztráty jablek, navýšit vstupní množství (referenční tok) jablek tak, aby po vyskladnění byla k dispozici požadovaná 1 t jablek. ...
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Cílem práce je s použitím metody posuzování životního cyklu porovnat potenciální environmentální dopady dovozu a skladování jablek v podmínkách České republiky a odpovědět na otázku, zda se z environmentálního pohledu vyplatí podporovat místní produkci a delší skladování či naopak dovoz zahraniční produkce, která sice má horší environmentální aspekty dopravy, ale zase kratší dobu skladování. Ve studii byly uvažovány čtyři scénáře 1) místní produkce jablek v ČR; 2) produkce v evropských zemích; 3) produkce v Chile a 4) produkce na Novém Zélandu. Současně s různými místy produkce byly uvažovány i různé doby vyskladnění. Výsledky studie hodnotí dovoz jablek z Chile a Nového Zélandu jako méně šetrný k životnímu prostředí než skladování místní produkce. Dovoz jablek ze zámoří se z environmentálního úhlu pohledu vyplácí až ve srovnání se skladováním po dobu 7 a více měsíců (září–duben) a to pouze pro následující kategorie environmentálních dopadů: spotřeba sladké vody, sladkovodní a mořské eutrofizace, ionizační záření a humánní toxicita (nekancerogenní). Z pohledu většiny kategorií dopadu, včetně uhlíkové stopy, je výrazně environmentálně šetrnější podporovat místní produkci než dovážet jablka z větší vzdálenosti. English The aim of the work is to compare the potential environmental impacts of importing and storing apples in the Czech Republic using the life cycle assessment method and to answer the question of whether it is worthwhile to support local production and longer period of storage or, on the contrary, to support imports of production from distant areas resulting in higher adverse effects of transport, but short time of storage. Four scenarios were considered in the study 1) local apple production in the Czech Republic; 2) production in European countries; 3) production in Chile and 4) production in New Zealand. Different removal times were considered at the same time as the different production sites. The results of the study evaluate the import of apples from Chile and New Zealand as less environmentally friendly than the longer time storage of the local production. Importing apples from overseas is paying off from an environmental perspective only when compared to storage for 7 months or more (September - April) and only for the following categories of environmental impacts: freshwater consumption, freshwater and maritime eutrophication, ionizing radiation and human toxicity ( non-cancerogenic). From the point of view view of most of the impact categories, including the carbon footprint, it is considerably more environmentally friendly to promote local production than to import apples from a greater distance.
... The studies show that GHG emissions associated with food supply chains mostly depend on three factors (besides the product itself and production methods, as discussed above): supply chain coordination, the efficiency of the consumer's transport mode for food purchases, and the efficiency of the transport mode for imports (Mundler and Rumpus, 2012;Van Hauwermeiren et al., 2007). Based on these factors and on the LCA's methodology, studies find that LFS trigger more (Carlsson-Kanyama et al., 2003;Hospido et al., 2009;Loiseau, 2020;Majewski et al., 2020;Malak-Rawlikowska et al., 2019;Mancini et al., 2019;Schlich and Fleissner, 2005;Schwarz et al., 2016;Sundkvist et al., 2001), less (Blanke and Burdick, 2005;Carlsson-Kanyama et al., 2003;Hospido et al., 2009;Jones, 2002;Milà Canals et al., 2007;Sim et al., 2007), or equivalent amounts (Brodt et al., 2013;Hospido et al., 2009;Mundler and Rumpus, 2012;Van Hauwermeiren et al., 2007;Wallgren, 2006) of GHG emissions than global food systems. Therefore, it is not correct to state that LFS automatically generate less GHG than global food systems. ...
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CONTEXT Food systems worldwide are under enormous pressure. Over the past decades, local food systems have been promoted by governments and civil society organisations as a lever for change towards more inclusive, resilient and sustainable food systems based on the belief of their many purported benefits. OBJECTIVE The goal of this article is to test eight common beliefs on local food systems – from a consumer, farmer, community and environmental perspective – against scientific evidence, with a focus on North America and Europe. METHODS We conduct a systematic multi-disciplinary literature review and identify 123 peer-reviewed studies on local food systems. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS We find that the impact of local food systems on different social, economic and environmental factors highly depends on the type of supply chain under assessment, with important differences across product types and countries. Hence, our review refutes the idea that local food is inherently good. In addition, we highlight the confusion surrounding the definition of a local food scale and point out a critical lack of cross-country comparable data hindering the possibility of drawing generalisable conclusions on the benefits and drawbacks of local food systems. SIGNIFICANCE A comprehensive review of multi-disciplinary scientific evidence confirming (or refuting) claims on local food systems was missing, leading to possible counter-productive policies. Based on our findings, we suggest that policy-makers should invest in cross-country comparable data collection on local food systems (especially in Europe), which would allow the scientific community to perform robust causal analyses on their impacts on society.
... tomatoes: (Smith et al., 2005;Theurl et al., 2013), lettuce: (Hospido et al., 2009;Mil a i Canals et al., 2008;Reinhardt et al., 2009), livestock feed: (Baumgartner et al., 2008;Lehuger et al., 2009). A prominent, well studied and yet controversial example is the production of apples within the European Union compared to an import from New Zealand (Blanke and Burdick, 2005;Jones, 2002;Mil a i Canals et al., 2007;Reinhardt et al., 2009;Saunders et al., 2006;Webb et al., 2013). Consequential life cycle assessments consider economic factors and are therefore potentially suitable to show the consequences of consumption changes. ...
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... The waste component in Fig. 3 includes organic (fruit) as well as inorganic (packaging) waste. Organic waste decreases from 15% of total yield (Mil a Canals et al., 2007) to less than 1% in 2020. Recycling rates of paper and plastic based packaging also increases substantially rerouting waste volumes away from landfill. ...
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This article discusses iZindaba Zokulda within the broader context of transitions towards sustainability.
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Cílem práce je s použitím metody posuzování životního cyklu porovnat potenciální environmentální dopady dovozu a skladování jablek v podmínkách České republiky a odpovědět na otázku, zda se z environmentálního pohledu vyplatí podporovat místní produkci a delší skladování či naopak dovoz zahraniční produkce, která sice má horší environmentální aspekty dopravy, ale zase kratší dobu skladování. Ve studii byly uvažovány čtyři scénáře 1) místní produkce jablek v ČR; 2) produkce v evropských zemích; 3) produkce v Chile a 4) produkce na Novém Zélandu. Současně s různými místy produkce byly uvažovány i různé doby vyskladnění. Výsledky studie hodnotí dovoz jablek z Chile a Nového Zélandu jako méně šetrný k životnímu prostředí než skladování místní produkce. Dovoz jablek ze zámoří se z environmentálního úhlu pohledu vyplácí až ve srovnání se skladováním po dobu 7 a více měsíců (září–duben) a to pouze pro následující kategorie environmentálních dopadů: spotřeba sladké vody, sladkovodní a mořské eutrofizace, ionizační záření a humánní toxicita (nekancerogenní). Z pohledu většiny kategorií dopadu, včetně uhlíkové stopy, je výrazně environmentálně šetrnější podporovat místní produkci než dovážet jablka z větší vzdálenosti. English The aim of the work is to compare the potential environmental impacts of importing and storing apples in the Czech Republic using the life cycle assessment method and to answer the question of whether it is worthwhile to support local production and longer period of storage or, on the contrary, to support imports of production from distant areas resulting in higher adverse effects of transport, but short time of storage. Four scenarios were considered in the study 1) local apple production in the Czech Republic; 2) production in European countries; 3) production in Chile and 4) production in New Zealand. Different removal times were considered at the same time as the different production sites. The results of the study evaluate the import of apples from Chile and New Zealand as less environmentally friendly than the longer time storage of the local production. Importing apples from overseas is paying off from an environmental perspective only when compared to storage for 7 months or more (September - April) and only for the following categories of environmental impacts: freshwater consumption, freshwater and maritime eutrophication, ionizing radiation and human toxicity ( non-cancerogenic). From the point of view view of most of the impact categories, including the carbon footprint, it is considerably more environmentally friendly to promote local production than to import apples from a greater distance.
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Recent literature has highlighted the importance of testing the sustainability performances of supply chains. Nevertheless, this field of research is still in its early stages, in particular with reference to short food supply chains (SFSCs). This research analyzed producers’ and consumers’ perception of the economic, social and environmental sustainability of two SFSCs of a specific quality of cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano PDO) placed in two different contexts: the first is a rural area in the Appennino Tosco-Emiliano National Park mountains and the second is a peri-urban area in Parma surroundings, both in Italy. The case study also analyzed the carbon emissions of shopping for Parmigiano Reggiano at dairy shops. Qualitative and quantitative methodologies were employed to achieve the aims of the present study. For producers in both areas, the SFSC is a successful strategy to sell a part of their output in their own outlets, gain reputation, reduce costs and at the same time increase their levels of self-esteem. Product quality is the biggest factor attracting consumers to the outlet; moreover, it is associated with trust in the producers and the idea of combining “leisure with pleasure”. However, the environmental impact of the consumers’ purchase activities is a drawback.
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Purpose Using apple consumption in Belgium as a case study, this study examines the environmental impacts associated with Belgian (BE) and New Zealand (NZ) apples, how impacts evolve throughout the year and how packaging affects this impact. Additionally, impacts associated with food losses and food waste along the chain are assessed. The study aims to delineate the most important factors in determining environmental impacts associated with apple. Methods The environmental impacts are calculated using the ILCD (International Reference Life Cycle Data System) approach. The functional unit is 1 kg of apples purchased by a consumer in the supermarket. Primary data was collected through players along the chain. Various scenarios are analysed for both the BE and NZ apples, based on the moment of purchase and packaging method. Food loss and waste impacts are assessed by splitting the impacts along the chain into three categories: apples lost along the supply chain, apples purchased and eaten by the consumer and apples purchased and wasted by the consumer. Results and discussion For all impact categories assessed, NZ apples come at a higher environmental cost than BE ones due to overseas transport. For both BE and NZ apples, minimum impacts are found for bulk apples at the beginning of the season, whereas maximum values are found for pre-packed apples at the end of the season. For BE apples, the choice of packaging method highly affects the impact, while it is negligible relative to shipping impacts for NZ apples. Altering secondary packaging materials of BE apples allows for impact reductions up to 50%. In the case of climate change, food waste and losses contribute up to 25% or 15% for BE or NZ apples, respectively, as all lost food travels in vain through the food chain and needs to be disposed of. Conclusions The study shows the importance of origin and packaging, whereas the moment of purchase hardly affects the environmental impact of apples. From a supply chain perspective, there is room for improvement as altering the use of secondary packaging greatly reduces impacts along the chain. The study further highlights how impacts are magnified by food waste and losses.
Article
The Sustainable Nutrient Rich Foods-index (SNRF) is a novel proposed nutrient density index, based on six distinctive nutrients (three which should be encouraged and three which should be limited), combined with (metabolic) energy density. By combining health-related nutritional characteristics and greenhouse gas emissions of foods, we can create three general groups: red, indicating foods with a negative nutrient profile and high climate impact; amber, indicating foods with a moderate nutrient profile and medium climate impact; and green, indicating a positive nutrient profile and low climate impact. The borders of the amber group are defined by the average GHGE ± 1 SD (X-axis 2.44 ± 0.49).
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A large body of research has explored opportunities to mitigate climate change in agricultural systems; however, less research has explored opportunities across the food system. Here we expand the existing research with a review of potential mitigation opportunities across the entire food system, including in pre-production, production, processing, transport, consumption and loss and waste. We detail and synthesize recent research on the topic, and explore the applicability of different climate mitigation strategies in varying country contexts with different economic and agricultural systems. Further, we highlight some potential adaptation co-benefits of food system mitigation strategies and explore the potential implications of such strategies on food systems as a whole. We suggest that a food systems research approach is greatly needed to capture such potential synergies, and highlight key areas of additional research including a greater focus on low- and middle-income countries in particular. We conclude by discussing the policy and finance opportunities needed to advance mitigation strategies in food systems.
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Growing concern regarding environmental, social, economic and food quality outcomes of the modern global industrial food system as well as the implications of climate change on food security and food system sustainability have fomented interest in, and action to advance localized food systems. Environmental stewardship is an oft-touted benefit of food system localization. However, few studies have comparatively examined actual environmental benefits of local versus global supply systems and most focus on only one aspect (e.g., GHG emissions). The study reported here comparatively analyzes land, water, carbon and ecological footprints of a localized food supply and contemporary global food supply for the South-West British Columbia (Canada), bioregion (SWBC). The footprint family approach utilized allows measuring overall biophysical loads for the studied region. We quantified regional rates of reliance on imported biophysical services; measured the performances of specific food products grown locally in comparison with their imported counterparts; and identified those commodities that have better and worse local biophysical performances. For the SWBC bioregion, only 35% of the food consumed in the region is locally produced. Supplying the region's food demands requires 2 million hectares of land and 3 billion m ³ of water, generating approximately 2.8 million tons of CO 2 e, with an eco-footprint of 2.5 million gha. Examining a large number of commodities grown and consumed in the bioregion revealed that only some commodities grown locally have absolute or significant biophysical advantages, while the rest have very little to no local advantage. Our analysis challenges the notion that local food systems are necessarily more environmentally sustainable from a biophysical resource use perspective and therefore may not represent the most compelling argument(s) for food system localization. We call for better and more comprehensive comparative analysis of existing and desired food systems as a mean to advance sustainability.
Article
Electrification is a promising approach to most carbon-emitting sectors of economic sectors of human activities such as transportation and industry sectors. Electrifying the machinery and different systems used in a farm can mitigate the carbon footprint of the agriculture sector if renewable energy sources are coordinated with the agricultural loads appropriately. This paper presents a road-map that: 1) presents greenhouse gases emitting activities in the food supply chain, 2) the potential impact of vertical farming on the agriculture sector, 3) discuss the carbon footprint of different activities in the food supply chain, and 4) presents a road-map to decarbonize greenhouse gas emitting activities in farms. This paper estimates that electrification of farms in an appropriate process with renewable energy resources can decrease the carbon footprint of farming 44–70% depends on the type of the farm.
Article
Given the rapid growth of the online recipe box market, this research evaluates the relative environmental performances of an online recipe box delivery model and supermarket grocery retail shopping. The evaluation was conducted via a thorough comparison of the associated carbon emissions of meals provided by an online recipe delivery service to the equivalent meals from a supermarket, accounting for differences in respective supply chains and their food loss and waste. The comparative results show that, on average, the carbon emissions of the five meals studied within the recipe box model are 10.8% less than those of the equivalent meals bought from a supermarket retail store. Overall, online recipe box delivery services can improve resource efficiency compared to supermarket grocery shopping, especially at the retail operation and household consumption stages. Our findings can inform environmentally conscious consumers and provide guidance to food organisations, including recipe box firms and supermarkets, in achieving their sustainability goals.
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PurposeSeveral scientific papers and technical reports have discussed the role of green public procurement in the food sector. Different strategies for the restoration sector have been identified. However, there is not yet a common understanding of which policies could be the most efficient in reducing the global warming potential of the public restoration service. This paper assesses a set of procurement policies, ranking them according to their potential to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of public catering. Methods Eleven relevant green public procurement policies were identified from the literature. These are discussed in the context of a case study of the school catering service in the city of Turin (Italy). Initially, a life cycle approach is applied to a baseline scenario of the collective restoration system of the city, to quantify the quantity of greenhouse gases produced by the entire catering service (including all stages from the production of food to the management of waste from kitchens and canteens). Afterwards, the 11 policies were applied to the baseline scenario so that the potential improvement achieved by each policy could be quantified. Results and discussionThe baseline scenario resulted in 1.67 kgCO2eq per average meal. The production of food dominates the global warming potential of the full service, being responsible for about 78% of the greenhouse gas emissions. Among the selected policies, a change in diet was the most effective (leading to a 32% reduction of the CO2eq emissions), followed by the adoption of improved food production practices (11% reduction) and the purchasing of certified green electricity (6% reduction). Conclusions The proposed method allows the assessment of procurement policies in the catering service by applying a simplified life cycle approach that considers all the stages of the process. Public authorities and other stakeholders could benefit from basing their decisions upon scientific evidence and avoiding the prioritisation of policies based on personal opinions or weak evidence. Uncertainties and areas for improvement in the method have been also identified for future investigation.
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This chapter first investigates the role of radio-frequency identification (RFID) in reducing food waste as well as energy consumption throughout the supply chain. It then introduces the concepts of carbon footprint (CF) and life cycle sustainability assessment (LCA). Environmental LCA has been widely used by decision makers for over two decades to help support the generation of recommendations associated with the environmental component of sustainable consumption and production (SCP). The chapter also discusses the challenges associated with CF for food items, local food, food miles concept, and CO2e labels. The primary challenge is that food production is inherently dependent on nature. Another challenge is related to the emission intensity of the production process, and therefore that of the supply chain in its entirety. Finally, the chapter discusses some mechanisms to reduce emissions through supply chain efficiency.
Article
Food waste is a problem with economic, environmental and social implications, making it both important and complex. Previous studies have addressed food waste management options at the less prioritised end of the waste hierarchy, but information on more prioritised levels is also needed when selecting the best available waste management options. Investigating the global warming potential and primary energy use of different waste management options offers a limited perspective, but is still important for validating impacts from the waste hierarchy in a local context. This study compared the effect on greenhouse gas emissions and primary energy use of different food waste management scenarios in the city of Växjö, Sweden. A life cycle assessment was performed for four waste management scenarios (incineration, anaerobic digestion, conversion and donation), using five food products (bananas, tomatoes, apples, oranges and sweet peppers) from the fresh fruit and vegetables department in two supermarkets as examples when treated as individual waste streams. For all five waste streams, the established waste hierarchy was a useful tool for prioritising the various options, since the re-use options (conversion and donation) reduced the greenhouse gas emissions and the primary energy use to a significantly higher degree than the energy recovery options (incineration and anaerobic digestion). The substitution of other products and services had a major impact on the results in all scenarios. Re-use scenarios where food was replaced therefore had much higher potential to reduce environmental impact than the energy recovery scenarios where fossil fuel was replaced. This is due to the high level of resources needed to produce food compared with production of fossil fuels, but also to fresh fruit and vegetables having a high water content, making them inefficient as energy carriers. Waste valorisation measures should therefore focus on directing each type of food to the waste management system that can substitute the most resource-demanding products or services, even when the whole waste flow cannot be treated with the same method.
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Stemilt Growers bought part of the farm, but they took over management of the farm only at the end of the 2001 growing season, whereas our Nature paper covered previous growing seasons. Stemilt Growers created the Responsible Choice environmental-impact rating system used in our study but had nothing to do with our decision to use this rating system, did not suggest that we should examine environmental impact, and were not involved in our evaluation of the farming systems. A more detailed version of this statement is available online as Supplementary Information to this Addendum.
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Background, Aims and Scope Over the last five decades, the nature of food retailing has undergone an enormous transformation. Macro level economic, structural and technological developments have led to a major increase in the level of world trade. These developments have helped retailers to meet modern consumer expectations, but benefits have not been achieved without some drawbacks. This paper seeks to explore the environmental impacts associated with fresh produce supply chains, in order to understand the relative significance of transport as compared to other supply chain activities. Methods Life Cycle Assessment was used to estimate the potential environmental impacts of three fresh produce items sourced from six countries and solid in Marks and Spencer stores: royal gala apples from Brazil, Chile, Italy and the UK; runner beans from Kenya (and extrapolated for Guatemala and the UK); and watercress from the UK and USA (and extrapolated for Portugal). Analysis was also conducted to evaluate the likely impacts of extending the storage period for UK apples thus negating the need to import, against the current strategy of importing fruit from the Southern hemisphere for six months of the year. In addition, the impacts of conventional as compared to organic cultivation were considered for watercress in both the UK and USA. Results and Discussion The results for all three products reveal similar dominating impacts. A clear distinction arises in terms of the activities which contribute most to environmental impact and the magnitude of this impact, depending on the country in which the product is cultivated; i.e. global, regional (European) or local (British) sources of supply. Conclusion Transport (or distance between production and consumption) is therefore an important factor in determining the environmental sustainability of food supply chains (though for long distance haulage, there is a significant distinction between air-freight and shipping). Electricity consumed for storage and packing operations is also significant, and the associated environmental impact is lower in countries where a large proportion of electricity is generated from renewable fuels. However, where this occurs in countries distant from the UK, transport impacts overshadow the environmental savings achieved from the more favourable electricity generation mix. Recommendations and Perspectives The results of this study suggest that when in season it is generally preferential, on environmental grounds, for UK consumers to buy British produce rather than produce imported from overseas. Cultivation overseas is necessary to ensure year-round availability and in these circumstances it is preferable that processing activities also occur overseas if environmental benefits can be derived from local factors (e.g. a favourable electricity generation mix). Overall, the findings should be evaluated in the context of managing wider sustainability interests (including social and economic issues), for which further research is required.
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Escalating production costs, heavy reliance on non-renewable resources, reduced biodiversity, water contamination, chemical residues in food, soil degradation and health risks to farm workers handling pesticides all bring into question the sustainability of conventional farming systems. It has been claimed, however, that organic farming systems are less efficient, pose greater health risks and produce half the yields of conventional farming systems. Nevertheless, organic farming became one of the fastest growing segments of US and European agriculture during the 1990s. Integrated farming, using a combination of organic and conventional techniques, has been successfully adopted on a wide scale in Europe. Here we report the sustainability of organic, conventional and integrated apple production systems in Washington State from 1994 to 1999. All three systems gave similar apple yields. The organic and integrated systems had higher soil quality and potentially lower negative environmental impact than the conventional system. When compared with the conventional and integrated systems, the organic system produced sweeter and less tart apples, higher profitability and greater energy efficiency. Our data indicate that the organic system ranked first in environmental and economic sustainability, the integrated system second and the conventional system last.
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- This commentary compares the primary energy requirement for apples (cultivar ‘Braeburn’), which were either imported or locally-grown in Meckenheim, Germany. Imported apples of the same cultivar were grown in a Southern hemisphere winter in Nelson, Southland, New Zealand, and were picked at the end of March with subsequent 28 d transport by sea for sale in April in Germany. Locally-grown apples (cultivar ‘Braeburn’) were picked in mid-October and required a primary energy of nearly 6 MJ/kg of fruit including 0.8 MJoule/kg for five months CA storage at 1°C during a Northern hemisphere winter until mid-March. This compared favourably with 7.5 MJoule/kg for overseas shipment from New Zealand, i.e. a ca. 27% greater energy requirement for these imported fruits. Overall, the primary energy requirement of regional produce, stored several months on-site, partially compensated for the larger energy required to import fresh fruit from overseas. This result is in marked contrast to reported overestimates of a reported up to 8-fold energy requirement for domestic versus imported apple juice concentrate [7]. Our own findings of less primary energy required for domestic apple fruit is discussed with respect to providing local employment, fruit orchards preserving the countryside, quality assurance systems for local fruit such as QS and EUREP-GAP, networking and other factors favouring regional production.
Article
Goal, Scope and Background Obviously, people assume that the regional production and distribution of food requires less energy turnover, compared with global transports of food. Politicians claim the term “regionality”, maintaining that regionality is a medicine against wasting so much energy for the global food distribution. Additionally the energy turnover is causing pollution. But remarkably, there is a lack of empirical data to support this idea. At the same time, nobody really requires regional origin for non-food items, e.g. for bicycles, dishwashers, furniture or cars etc. The public mainstream asks for regional origin merely for food. Hence, the first scientific issue worked out in this paper is how the energy turnover of comparable food items can be measured, regarding the lifecycle of food in total. That means to investigate the partial systems of crop or breed, of food production, of packaging including transport and distribution up to the point of sale. Secondly, it has to be checked, if the assumed coincidence of low energy turnover and regional origin can be verified. The specific energy turnover, calculated in the unit [kWh per kg] or [kWh per l] of food, is investigated by comparing regional with global process chains for different food items. Two examples of food – fruit juices and lamb meat – are researched, by personal investigation worldwide. Firstly, fruit juices of high grade quality from Brazil, from European origin and from local German farmers are compared, in terms of energy. Secondly, a comparison of lamb meat from New Zealand and lamb meat from local German farmers is conducted. Lamb meat has been investigated, because it is shipped around the world as frozen natural food, not concentrated like juices. In addition, the business size of the food producers is researched for both examples. Methods As a part of LCA the energy turnover of each process step from the very beginning up to the point of sale is investigated. These primary results are the basic empirical data, in order to allocate the energy turnover at the food items as functional units. The results of regional, European-continental and of global process chains are compared. In addition, the issue is investigated, whether the specific energy turnover depends upon the business size. Results and Discussion Surprisingly, the data in both cases demonstrate a strong degressive relation of the specific energy turnover and the business size. Here it is not important, if the business is regional or not. Merely the efficiency and logistics of the production and the operations determine the specific energy turnover. These findings seem closely connected with the business size, because small companies are not able to invest in energy recovering and saving technology. The regional juices business is worsened by the huge number of smallsized transports of the crop and the nearly bottle-wise distribution. Regarding lamb meat we once more find the disadvantages of comparably small farms again. In addition, the German farmers need daily shepherds, fences by night, stables and usually additional feed during the wintertime. All these efforts are not necessary in New Zealand, where the climatic conditions and the open countryside with low population allow rather easy and low energy breeding of lamb. Conclusion The coincidence of economic and ecological facts is obvious. As a matter of fact, in economics there is a strong degressive relation between the production costs and the number of produced items. This relation is very well known as “Economy of Scale.” Our findings lead to similar conclusions, in terms of ecology. That means, the production ecology depends on the number of produced items. Additionally, our results demonstrate a minimum business size, so that we can claim an “Ecology of Scale” as well. However, on the other hand, the reported data and the conclusions are valid for the investigated food items – fruit juices and lamb meat – only. Nevertheless, one conclusion is already evident: The most popular claims for regional food production and distribution instead of global process chains are not generally valid. Small farmers basically need much more energy to produce and distribute their products, compared with bigger units. Both food items demonstrate clearly, that the ecological quality is mainly influenced by the operational efficiency and not by the marketing distance itself. Recommendation and Outlook Much more detailed data of all the investigated operational units, processing fruit juices and lamb meat, have been published (Fleissner 2001). As a further example, we investigate wine from different countries as a further example. Different from fruit juices, which can be shipped as a concentrate, and different from lamb meat, which is shipped as frozen food, wine of high grade quality is always bottled close to the place of origin. That means, that not only the food, but also the heavy weight packaging is transported around the world. So, we are very curious about the results, which we expect for 2004.
Article
In this study we assessed to what extent management of apple-growing within a well defined farming system affects environmental impacts. A four-year data set of 12 fruit farms from eastern Switzerland was analyzed using the life cycle assessment (LCA) method to evaluate the variability of different environmental impacts. For the total of 445 annual data sets of apple orchards eight impact categories were assessed. A principal component analysis (PCA) was performed to group the eight impact categories according to their correlation. A three component solution turned out to be adequate. It indicated that the three impact categories energy use, aquatic ecotoxicity and aquatic eutrophication were influenced independently of each other to a high degree. These three key impacts can be managed by keeping the inputs of machinery, pesticides and fertilizers low. Production constraints were highly homogeneous within the sample. Because of this, we were able to define the management influence on environmental impacts as the ratio of the maximum and minimum observed. On a per hectare basis, the effect of management for energy use was factor 2, for aquatic ecotoxicity factor 4 and for aquatic eutrophication factor 1.1. In contrast, when measured per receipts, the management influence was greater than per hectare, indicated by a range of factor 6 for each of the three key impact categories. Further insight into the effect of management was attained by statistical risk assessment. A positive and significant correlation between mean value (M) and the coefficient of variance (CV) indicated that the expected risk could be reduced by a low level of variability. Such a M–CV correlation was found for the two key impact categories energy use and aquatic eutrophication if calculated per receipts. No M–CV correlation was found for aquatic ecotoxicity. It was on the other hand observed that farms with low aquatic ecotoxicity also practiced low energy use and low eutrophication on a per receipt basis. We conclude that the promotion of environmentally sound apple-growing is not only a question of choosing one or the other farming system (e.g. organic versus integrated farming) but that an understanding of the system specific management influence is crucial.
Article
In order to evaluate alternative agricultural production methods that may reduce environmental impacts, assessment tools are required that measure the consequences of changing systems. This paper explores the usefulness of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in identifying environmental improvement opportunities in horticultural systems. LCA has been applied to three commercial apple (Malus x domestica, Borkh.) orchards and two reference orchards, representing standard practices according to expert advice, in New Zealand. Variability observed in the results suggests growers’ technique exerts considerable impact on the LCA results, introducing variances of 30–50% in energy consumption and other environmental impacts when performing the same field operation. Despite a small sample size, the origins of the environmental impacts resulting from these examples of Integrated Fruit Production (IFP) were observed to be generally similar. Human toxicity related impacts were dominated by emissions of the synthetic pesticides used in IFP, and were thoroughly modelled in the study. The production of pesticides and agricultural machinery was found to be significant in the overall energy consumption of the orchard; pesticide production represented 10–20% of energy consumption, while machinery production accounted for 7–12% of energy consumption in all study sites. The application of LCA helped to identify improvement opportunities to reduce environmental impacts within this and related production systems, and demonstrated its usefulness in setting priorities to realise these opportunities. LCA is a holistic approach that measures the different environmental impacts from agriculture and is useful for the development of certification schemes such as EUREP GAP, or the assessment of the environmental soundness of agricultural technologies.
Article
The appropriateness of the fossil Cumulative Energy Demand (CED) as an indicator for the environmental performance of products and processes is explored with a regression analysis between the environmental life-cycle impacts and fossil CEDs of 1218 products, divided into the product categories "energy production", "material production", "transport", and "waste treatment". Our results show that, for all product groups but waste treatment, the fossil CED correlates well with most impact categories, such as global warming, resource depletion, acidification, eutrophication, tropospheric ozone formation, ozone depletion, and human toxicity (explained variance between 46% and 100%). We conclude that the use of fossil fuels is an important driver of several environmental impacts and thereby indicative for many environmental problems. It maytherefore serve as a screening indicatorfor environmental performance. However, the usefulness of fossil CED as a stand-alone indicator for environmental impact is limited by the large uncertainty in the product-specific fossil CED-based impact scores (larger than a factor of 10 for the majority of the impact categories; 95% confidence interval). A major reason for this high uncertainty is nonfossil energy related emissions and land use, such as landfill leachates, radionuclide emissions, and land use in agriculture and forestry.
Sustainable Food Supply Chains. EngD portfolio. Uni-versity of
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Sim S (2006): Sustainable Food Supply Chains. EngD portfolio. Uni-versity of Surrey, UK
Life cycle assessment of apple production: Case stud-ies for Sweden, New Zealand and France
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Stadig M (1997): Life cycle assessment of apple production: Case stud-ies for Sweden, New Zealand and France. SIK Report No. 630, p 117. Gothenburg, Sweden (in Swedish, summary in English)
Life cycle inventories of packagings and graphical papers
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Hischier R (2004): Life cycle inventories of packagings and graphical papers. ecoinvent-Report No. 11, Swiss Centre for Life Cycle Inventories, Dübendorf, 2004
Contributions to LCA Methodology for Ag-ricultural Systems. Site-dependency and soil degradation impact as-sessment
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Milà i Canals L (2003): Contributions to LCA Methodology for Ag-ricultural Systems. Site-dependency and soil degradation impact as-sessment. PhD Thesis. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain. Available at <http://www.tdx.cesca.es/TDX-1222103-154811/>
Life cycle modelling CO2 emissions for lettuce, apples and cherries
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Mason R, Simons D, Peckham C, Wakeman T (2002): Life cycle modelling CO 2 emissions for lettuce, apples and cherries. FSP, EAFL, UK, 84 pp
Fair Miles? The concept of ‘food miles’ through a sustainable development lens
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MacGregor J, Vorley B (2006): Fair Miles? The concept of 'food miles' through a sustainable development lens. IIED. London, UK
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Energy for preparation and string of food - Models for calculation of energy use for cooking and cold storage in households
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Sustainable Food Supply Chains. EngD portfolio UK [10] Stadig M (1997): Life cycle assessment of apple production: Case studies for Sweden
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Contributions to LCA Methodology for Agricultural Systems. Site-dependency and soil degradation impact assessment
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Milà i Canals L (2003): Contributions to LCA Methodology for Agricultural Systems. Site-dependency and soil degradation impact assessment. PhD Thesis. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain. Available at <http://www.tdx.cesca.es/TDX-1222103-154811/>
Life cycle assessment of apple production: Case studies for Sweden
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Stadig M (1997): Life cycle assessment of apple production: Case studies for Sweden, New Zealand and France. SIK Report No. 630, p 117. Gothenburg, Sweden (in Swedish, summary in English)
Energy for preparation and string of food -Models for calculation of energy use for cooking and cold storage in households. SIK-Rapport Nr 709
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Sonesson U, Janestad H, Raaholt B (2003): Energy for preparation and string of food -Models for calculation of energy use for cooking and cold storage in households. SIK-Rapport Nr 709 2003 Received: February 22nd, 2007 Accepted: April 28th, 2007
The environmental effects of civil aircraft in flight -Special report
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