Published September 22, 2020 | Version v1
Project deliverable Open

Report on LCA and Social-LCA of the selected food products


This D4.4 LCA and Social-LCA report is the outcome of task 4.5. This task evaluates the environmental and social impacts of the selected food supply chain case studies in the VALUMICS project. The selected case studies focus on specific instances of salmon, beef and dairy supply chains. Life cycle assessment (LCA) was adopted as the evaluation tool in this task. It will use a holistic approach for system modelling of selected food supply chains. The chain will be defined in terms of raw materials (input) supply, primary production on farm, food processing, distribution and retail, and consumption stages. Moreover, descriptions of the selected case studies' food supply chains are included. In the LCA work, we defined a standard set of LCA rules for use across all studies (system boundary, functional unit, data quality, geographical specificity, calculation methods in the absence of observed data). For each case study, activity data has been taken from stakeholders in food supply chains or collated from secondary data sets. The environmental impact assessment covers all key impacts governed by EU legislation / policy such as: greenhouse gas emissions (European Climate Change Programme), freshwater eutrophication (Water and Nitrate Framework Directives), acidification (Air Quality Directive, Ammonia regulations). The social impacts will focus on worker stakeholder groups in UNEP-SETAC social LCA guidelines, with the consideration of data availability across the entire food supply chain. The interpretation of LCA focusses on identifying hotspots within the food supply chains. These hotspots are associated with different stakeholders at each stage in the chain. In order to improve the sustainability performance of selected food supply chains, recommendation and future scenarios are provided.


The goal is to conduct the LCA and Social LCA for the selected case studies representing specific instances of selected food supply chains to identify the environmental and social hotspots The objective is using life cycle analysis to model
and identify areas to potentially improve the sustainability performance of these specific food supply chains in order to identify commonalities and differences by commodity, logistics and market.


Life cycle assessment and social life cycle assessment was adopted for modeling the environmental and social impacts of case study food supply chains. Development of the model for different stages is based on available secondary data and the interviews
with the stakeholders.


The LCA models identified on-farm production is the main hotspot within the selected food supply chains. The impact of transport process within food supply chain has a significant variation, which relates to the end market. Sea and road distribution system
has very small contribution to environmental and social impact of food supply chain, however, the impact contribution of air transport is quite significant. Feed production and on-farm operations were identified as the most important activities to reduce the
adverse impacts from primary production on farm.


Chen, W., Holden N.M., Mehta, S., Thakur, M., Olafsdottir G. (2020) Report on LCA and Social- LCA of the selected food products. The VALUMICS project funded by EU Horizon 2020 G.A. No 727243. Deliverable: D4.4, University College Dublin, Dublin, 52 pages.


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VALUMICS – Understanding food value chains and network dynamics 727243
European Commission