Life Cycle Assessment
In the industrialised world, there is an increasing
awareness that the present food consumption
patterns are far from sustainable. To reduce the
negative environmental effects caused by the
production and consumption of foods, and to
avoid sub-optimizations, systems analysis
studies are needed.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) which is a method
for analysis and assessment of the
environmental impacts caused by product
systems, is a valuable tool for such studies.
For foods, the complete product system includes production of
inputs to agriculture, agricultural production, industrial
refining,storage and distribution, packaging, the household
phase and waste management.
The purpose of an LCA study can be to compare alternative
products, alternative life cycles for a given product, or the
relative importance of different life cycle steps.
In its present state, the LCA method can offer guidance to
industry and authorities in decision-making; it also furthers
Examples of food products that have been studied using LCA
are wheat, tomatoes, bread, ham, pork and lamb, apples,
beer and tomato ketchup.
LCA of tomato ketchup
The objectives of the improvement assessment of
ketchup conducted are:
to illustrate how LCA can be used by the food industry in
to investigate the influence of the geographical location
of certain processes;
To find ways to improve the product's environmental
The environmental impact categories taken into
consideration are primary energy use, global warming,
acidfication, eutrophication, photooxidant formation and
The generation of radio- active waste.
The study was carried out in close co- operation with a
Swedish producer of tomato ketchup, and an Italian
producer of tomato paste, which made it possible
to obtain much useful site-specfic data.
The existing product system
Briefly, the tomato paste (28-30 Bx = 31% dry matter) is
produced in the Mediterranean countries, in the areas
where the tomatoes are cultivated.
The tomato paste is packed in aseptic bags, placed in 200L
capacity steel barrels, and transported by ship and lorry to
Sweden where it is further processed (together with other
ingredients and water) into ketchup. The ketchup is
packed in plastic bottles made of polypropylene (PP)
with a barrier layer of ethylenevinylalcohol (EVOH);
each bottle contains 1 kg of ketchup.
The alternative product systems
Based on the experience gained while working with the
screening LCA six alternative product systems (including
processing, packaging and transportation) were
A1 A2 B C D1 D2 D3
Type of 28-30 28-30 16 16 16 16 16
Sterili- Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Fuel for Heavy Calor Calor Calor Heavy Heavy Calor
steam Fuel Oil Gas Gas Gas Fuel Oil Fuel Oil Gas
Product. SWE SWE ITA ITA SWE SWE SWE
Seasonal No No No Yes No No No
Ingred. SWE SWE ITA ITA SWE SWE SWE
Type of Sugar Sugar Sugar Sugar Sugar Sugar Sugar
sugar solution solution
Fuel for Coal Coal Coal Coal Coal Coal Gas
Transportation sub- system
A1 A2 B C D1 D2 D3
Means of Sea Train + - - Road Train + Sea
transport tanker+ lorry tanker lorry tanker+
Distance 5110+ 1580+ - - 1790 1580+ 5110+
(km) 380 250 205 380
Amount 387 387 - - 630 630 630
Means of Lorry Train Lorry Lorry Lorry Lorry Train
Distance 450 450 2070 2070 450 450 450
The inventory analysis and impact assessment
Basically, inventory analysis means perfoming material and
energy balances for the systems studied.
• For screening, energy data were collected from specific
Producers (tomato paste, ketchup, raw sugar etc.)
• For packaging materials and transportation, literature
data was used.
An impact assessment was carried out according to the
Nordic Guidelines on LCA for the categories global
warming, acidification, eutrophication and photooxidant
The contribution to the different environmental impacts were quantified with
weighting factors; for each environmental effect, different sets were applied in
order to test the results.
A2 B C D1 D2 D3
Primary 1,02 0,95 0,91 0,91 0,90 0,88
Global 0,93 1,12 1,07 0,94 0,88 0,82
Acidifi- 0,26 min 0,52 0,52 0,70 0,75 0,25
cation 0,42 max 0,79 0,78 0,82 0,72 0,33
Eutrophi- 1,00 (P) 1,00 1,00 1,00 1,00 1,00
cation 1,00 (N) 1,02 1,01 1,00 1,00 1,00
Radio- 1,22 0,45 0,45 0,89 1,06 1,02
LCA is very valuable for incorporating environmental
aspects in the development of more sustainable food
Of the systems studied, the A2 and D3 systems show the
best potential for improvement.
Experience gained from the case study shows that perhaps
even more important than the final LCA results and
conclusions are the knowledge and the understanding of
the system aquired.