Carbon Footprint of Pork Pates: Organic vs Conventional

Abstract: This study targeted 9 different pork pates, produced with pork from different meat production systems (conventional, organic, and other quality certifications). Besides greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the study also included a detailed analysis of product nutrition. Results show that the GHG emissions range from 200g CO(2)e per 100g of product for conventional pork pates and 330g CO(2)e per 100g for organic pork pates. Results for organic pates are an indirect consequence of the lower productivity of swine feed ingredients. However, if the reference flow unit is nutritional indicator (e.g., calories, protein) instead of 100g of product, results can be inverted. This fact highlights the difficulty of choosing a functional unit for studies on food products. The function of a food product is to provide quality nutrition, but because there are many different nutritional indicators, life cycle assessment practitioners normally use simple comparisons between amounts. This issue together with the choice of emissions allocation method between pork parts are the main sources of uncertainty. Also, the life cycle of pork production is the main hotspot in the C footprint, accounting for more than 80% of the total emissions. Energy spent for processing and packaging, the only life cycle step that the producer controls directly, accounts for less than 10% of the impact. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2013;9:645-651. (c) 2013 SETAC

Reference: Teixeira, R., et al. (2013). Carbon Footprint of Breton Pate Production: A Case Study, Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management 9(4): 645-65. Online: