Closing Data Gaps for LCA of Food Products: Estimating the Energy Demand of Food Processing

Autores UPV
Revista Environmental Science & Technology


Food is one of the most energy and CO2- intensive consumer goods. While environmental data on primary agricultural products are increasingly becoming available, there are large data gaps concerning food processing. Bridging these gaps is important; for example, the food industry can use such data to optimize processes from an environmental perspective, and retailers may use this information for purchasing decisions. Producers and retailers can then market sustainable products and deliver the information demanded by governments and consumers. Finally, consumers are increasingly interested in the environmental information of foods in order to lower their consumption impacts. This study provides estimation tools for the energy demand of a representative set of food process unit operations such as dehydration, evaporation, or pasteurization. These operations are used to manufacture a variety of foods and can be combined, according to the product recipe, to quantify the heat and electricity demand during processing. In combination with inventory data on the production of the primary ingredients, this toolbox will be a basis to perform life cycle assessment studies of a large number of processed food products and to provide decision support to the stakeholders. Furthermore, a case study is performed to illustrate the application of the tolos.