Coffee beans

Establishing Life Cycle Assessments Database for Food Products

Oslo, August 08, 2013
The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Database for food and beverages was launched, with Yara as one of the funding partners. “By supporting transparency on the environmental footprint of food, Yara continues to actively promote and support sustainable agriculture,” says Egil Hogna, Head of Downstream.
Green wheat field using Yara fertilizer

Yara, alongside several major stakeholders belonging in the food value chain, foresee an increasing demand for LCA’s for feasible quantifications of the environmental footprints left by global food production. Life Cycle Assessment is a scientific method used to quantify impacts throughout all activities occurring over the life cycle of a product or service, from extracting natural resources to managing generated waste. 

 “Consumers demand increasingly more information about their purchases, including food products. Legislation already exists in the field of feed and food traceability, but there are growing concerns over food safety and environmental sustainability,” says Hogna.

“Thus, Yara has been making advance preparations on this field, and we are well positioned for these developments.”

The project is based on an extensive partnership, so far consisting of two governmental institutions, as well as nine major international companies, such as Nestlé, Kraft Foods– and Yara. While these partners secure the funding, the Swiss Federal Research Station Agroscope and the consultancy Quantis, both specializing in LCA’s, have established and run the actual database providing reliable and up-to-date data life cycle assessments.

The project is ground-breaking, due to the fact that no LCA database has previously been created at this level, introducing broad participation from the entire food sector value chain. Yara seeks participation in the project to provide better consumer information, as well as to promote sustainable food production systems. The LCA database initiative fits well in line with the company’s overarching strategies, reflecting upon modern agriculture’s environmental impacts, the need for more efficient food production, bringing added value and business transparency to consumers and societies.

Through the partnership Yara aims to support greater traceability all along the entire value chain. The participation in the LCA Database is therefore a valuable and necessary step forward which will further increase Yara’s focus and knowledge about environmental impacts.

The database itself will be consisting of over 200 datasets holding various agricultural crops and animal products, including different production schemes, as well as food transformation, storage, and transport processes. The aim is to provide reliable, consistent and up-to-date data.

High quality data are paramount to ensure well-informed decision-making, both at the company and policy levels. Such data are needed to properly communicate on the environmental impacts of products as in the case of Environmental Product Declaration. The initiative to establish an LCA Database is therefore an answer to an increased demand for such data, in particular in the food sector.

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