Purpose – Packed salads are popular in many countries of the world. The purpose of this paper is to assess the energy footprint of these products from farm gate to retail gate, compared with unpacked produces distributed by retailers and farmers’ markets in Italy. Design/methodology/approach – Life cycle assessment served as methodological background, even if the analysis was focused on direct and indirect energy consumption. Three supply chains were analysed: packed (P-S) and unpacked (U-S) sold in supermarkets, and unpacked produce sold locally (U-L). Energy inputs were accounted for processing, packaging, refrigeration, transport, and distribution. Data were collected from available literature and from interviews with key experts in the transformation, packaging, and retail sectors. Energy inputs were computed for 1 kg of finished edible product (kgp). Findings – Packed salads require an elevated energy input ranging from 16 to 37 MJ kgp−1. Input energy is mostly required for packaging and refrigeration. By comparison, the U-L chain requires about one tenth of the energy (1.8-2.6 MJ.kgp−1), but local sold produces attain the best performance with only 0.6-1.2 MJ.kgp−1, since they do not need processing, refrigeration, and disposable packages. Packed products mainly rely on the availability of cheap fossil fuels and all the sector has significantly suffered after the oil shock of 2008. Increasing energy costs may lead the price of the commodity out of the market. Originality/value – The paper addresses the subject of energy consumption in a popular sector of processed food to which at present little attention has been paid in the domain of food research. © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Does packaging matter? Energy consumption of pre-packed salads

PAGANI, MARCO;VITTUARI, MATTEO;FALASCONI, LUCA
2015

Abstract

Purpose – Packed salads are popular in many countries of the world. The purpose of this paper is to assess the energy footprint of these products from farm gate to retail gate, compared with unpacked produces distributed by retailers and farmers’ markets in Italy. Design/methodology/approach – Life cycle assessment served as methodological background, even if the analysis was focused on direct and indirect energy consumption. Three supply chains were analysed: packed (P-S) and unpacked (U-S) sold in supermarkets, and unpacked produce sold locally (U-L). Energy inputs were accounted for processing, packaging, refrigeration, transport, and distribution. Data were collected from available literature and from interviews with key experts in the transformation, packaging, and retail sectors. Energy inputs were computed for 1 kg of finished edible product (kgp). Findings – Packed salads require an elevated energy input ranging from 16 to 37 MJ kgp−1. Input energy is mostly required for packaging and refrigeration. By comparison, the U-L chain requires about one tenth of the energy (1.8-2.6 MJ.kgp−1), but local sold produces attain the best performance with only 0.6-1.2 MJ.kgp−1, since they do not need processing, refrigeration, and disposable packages. Packed products mainly rely on the availability of cheap fossil fuels and all the sector has significantly suffered after the oil shock of 2008. Increasing energy costs may lead the price of the commodity out of the market. Originality/value – The paper addresses the subject of energy consumption in a popular sector of processed food to which at present little attention has been paid in the domain of food research. © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Pagani, Marco; Vittuari, Matteo; Falasconi, Luca
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/528082
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