Life Cycle Assessment of organic and conventional conserved crushed tomatoes for the Swedish market

University essay from SLU/Department of Molecular Sciences

Abstract: The current global food system has been identified as responsible for a large part of global environmental impact, and the environmental impact of agriculture has significantly increased mainly due to its production practices and activities included in the entire product supply chain. The tomato supply-chain has an important role in the global agri-food industry, identifying California, Italy, China, Spain, Portugal and Turkey as the leading producers globally, and Italy and Spain among the main exporters of tomato products in Europe. The aim of this study was to investigate the production phases of packed crushed tomato, and to identify the hot-spots along the supply chain. In particular, information on global warming potential and energy demand was collected. As regards the packaged crushed tomato imported to Sweden, a simplified LCA based on a LCA review was conducted to identify the hot-spots of the supply chain. To identify the origin of the products, 16 different packages of crushed tomato organic and conventionally produces were collected, available in the main grocery stores in Stockholm. The information regarding the production activities were obtained through contact with some of the processing companies of the collected products and through published studies. Carbon footprint and energy use were calculated for the agriculture, processing, packaging and transport phases. The calculations did not include activities related to seeds production and transportation, the consumption level, secondary/tertiary packaging and waste disposal. The results show that the products collected come from Southern Europe, especially from Italy. None of the products selected were produced in Sweden or contain tomatoes with Swedish origin, this underlines that the Swedish consumption of crushed tomato product is currently totally dependent on imports from southern Europe. Six out of sixteen are certified organic products through the European organic logo, some of these also show KRAV logo certification. The results of the simplified LCA show the transport and process phase to be the main environmental burden among the phases considered in terms of carbon footprint and energy use. Furthermore, by analyzing the total impact of both conventional and organic products, the impact of the two systems is very similar. Indeed, the carbon footprint obtained is 0.32 kg CO2-eq and 0.31 kg CO2-eq and the energy use is 5 MJ and 4.9 MJ for the organic and conventional product respectively, considering 400 grams of packed crushed tomato as a functional unit. The values obtained in the cultivation phase are those that determine the slight difference between the two systems, both carried out in the open field. The most important measures to reduce the impacts in terms of global warming potential and energy use strongly depend on the cultivation systems used, the type of energy used in the process, the packaging, and the type of vehicle chosen for the transport route.

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