Ritical analysis of environmental impacts of food production

. What we want you to do

Obtaining all the necessary and robust data to complete a full life cycle assessment of environmental impacts of strawberry production in Spain vs UK out-of-season would be difficult and time consuming and beyond the scope of this assessment.

What we want you to do is prepare a report which presents the  goal and scope , and as far as possible  inventory analysis, for such an LCA. This would entail definition of the product, product function, production functional unit, product system, system boundaries and preparation of a flow diagram detailing as far as possible the inputs, outputs, sub-systems, and system environment. You may decide to present several system boundaries, representing different levels of completeness of analysis, and then comment on the relative merits of these approaches.

The goal of the assessment is to get you to think clearly about how an LCA can be used to analyse environmental impacts, and to think about and communicate the various trade-offs that are present in alternative food production systems. The LCA-type components of the report should be regarded as framework for subsequent discussion, and generation of numerical estimate of impact (e.g. GHG emissions per unit product), while informative, should not be seen as the most critical element of the work.
State of the World 2008: Innovations for a Sustainable Economy
Paperback, 288 pages
January 2008 ISBN 13: 978-0-393-33031-1

Perman, R et al (1999), Natural Resources and Environmental Economics, 2nd Edition, Harlow, Longman.
DETR (1999), A Better Quality of Life: A Strategy for Sustainable Development for the UK, The Stationery Office.
DETR (2000), Quality of Life Counts: Indicators for a Strategy for Sustainable Development in the UK. The Stationery Office.
DTI (2002), Energy Consumption in the UK, 2002
DTI (2002), UK Energy Sector Indicators
Department for Transport (2002): Transport Trends, The Stationery Office.

Ritical analysis of environmental impacts of food production

Food retailers in developed countries such as the UK endeavour to provide their customers with a wide range of food products all through the year. This has contributed to the development of food product systems (ie supply chains) aimed at providing high quality/high value food products outside of the normal UK growing season for those products. This can be achieved by two means:

1. Alteration of food production methods in the UK to alleviate environmental restraints on production
2. Importation of food product from countries with more favourable year-round climatic conditions that allow production outside of the UK season.

As an example, strawberries available in UK supermarkets outside of UK growing season (summer only) may be either imported from Spain, or grown in the UK under polytunnel.


The relative impacts of these two approaches in terms of energy use, green house gas (GHG) emissions, and other environmental adverse effects are not transparent, and the assumption that  locally produced foodstuffs carry lower environmental impacts may be an oversimplification. The reality could be established by a holistic, life cycle assessment approach to these two product systems.
State of the World 2008: Innovations for a Sustainable Economy
Paperback, 288 pages
January 2008 ISBN 13: 978-0-393-33031-1

Perman, R et al (1999), Natural Resources and Environmental Economics, 2nd Edition, Harlow, Longman.
DETR (1999), A Better Quality of Life: A Strategy for Sustainable Development for the UK, The Stationery Office.
DETR (2000), Quality of Life Counts: Indicators for a Strategy for Sustainable Development in the UK. The Stationery Office.
DTI (2002), Energy Consumption in the UK, 2002
DTI (2002), UK Energy Sector Indicators
Department for Transport (2002): Transport Trends, The Stationery Office.