Coffee beans

From fertilizer to burger buns

Oslo, August 30, 2012
Did you know that the majority of the carbon footprint (CFP) of a packed burger bun is related to grain production in the field?
wheat field

That was the conclusion of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study1 in France to investigate the environmental footprint of a packed burger bun, conducted by InVivo, the biggest cooperative group in France.

Earlier this year, Yara's agronomic R&D center Hanninghof hosted a meeting initiated by McDonald's Europe to examine the CFP of bakery products.

"Here, 19 representatives from all parts of the value chain - agricultural production, mills, bakeries, McDonald's - explained their individual carbon footprints and initiatives to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases," says Senior Scientist Frank Brentrup from Hanninghof.

Modern technology to reduce CFP of wheat grain

The focus of mills and bakeries is mainly on energy saving, using more climate friendly energy sources, recycling waste and avoiding leakage of greenhouse gases, for example via cooling agents.

Yara represented the agricultural production of wheat grain. Frank explained how modern fertilizer production technology and best farming practices contribute to significant reductions in the CFP per ton of grain.

"Hanninghof has established scientific trials to investigate how to produce high quality wheat grain at the lowest possible carbon footprint," says Frank. "One of these trials is located at a German farm producing grain for McDonald's."

The group visited a similar field trial during the meeting and scientists from Hanninghof demonstrated how emission measurements are taken and which new fertilizing systems are being tested.

"Yara's work on fertilizers is one of the key elements in the carbon footprint work for our bakeries," says Jacqui Macalister from McDonald's Europe. “We look forward to continuing to work with them to achieve reductions."

"This cooperation between the different stakeholders of the McDonald's wheat value chain will continue - with the aim of further reducing the CFP at all steps," Frank concludes.


1 Maupu P., Berthoud A., Négri O., Leguereau B., Gely B. and Poupart A. 2012. Traceability of environmental information all along the cereal industry: from the wheat field to the bakery. 2012 AvniR conference proceedings (not published yet).

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