|Author: ||M. Padilla|
|Keywords: ||sustainable food chain, social LCA, environmental LCA, nutrition and food chain, horticulture|
Horticultural products, like all food products, are currently faced with three challenges concerning sustainable development.
The first is to protect the environment The second challenge regards nutrition and health.
Variety, transport conditions (temperature and duration), the type of technology used in processing (cold break, hot break) and the conditions of use of the final product are highly responsible for nutrient loss.
The third challenge is the economic and social impact.
Every segment of the food chains must guarantee an improvement in human well-being and social justice.
Furthermore, consumers have changed and have replaced the traditional price-quality criteria used in making choices.
They require information on environmental, nutritional and social aspects of the whole production and distribution systems Like all other products, industrial tomatoes must mirror these new market requirements and customer demands.
Professionals are unable to cope with all three challenges simultaneously.
With this in mind, an on-going national research programme in France (FLONUDEP) is aiming to create a decision-making tool adapted to this new context for the impact of both fresh and processed tomato production chains.
A life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology has been applied to all stages of the productís life cycle, from the extraction of raw ingredient to the production system, processing, commercialisation, consumption and end of life, taking into account environmental, nutritional, economic and social considerations.
Three countries have been studied: France, Turkey and Morocco.
Results show considerable differences among the 3 countries, not only in terms of values, but also in terms of the most polluting stage across the LCA (whether agriculture, logistics, factory etc.). However, in general, the production methods, the organization of logistics circuits, and the choice of packaging seem to be crucial to environmental impact.
In nutritional terms, product processing times are essential as is the ambient temperature which can alter nutrients.
Logistics are therefore fundamental.
Consumers must also modify their behaviour with regard to conserving products.
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