Latest International Trends on measuring Food Sustainability

Latest International Trends on measuring Food Sustainability


During the first week of October, Edge Environment’s Director Jonas Bengtsson presented at the 8th International Conference on LCA in the Food industry. This conference continued its growth trend, with over 430 participants, a great increase over the last Conference in 2010 in Bari, Italy with 272 attendants.

While the usual topics such as agricultural impacts and water usage were still dominating the conversation, several new trends could be seen emerging:

  • Several companies such as Barilla, Nestle, Casino (France), Coop (Sweden) and Walmart (int.) reported increased focus on labeling in all forms (eco-, carbon and water footprint) and related issues around aggregation of environmental indicators and valuations
  • Strategic sourcing of ingredients, such as industry moving away from palm oil
  • Increased use of LCA in the fisheries and aquaculture industries to measure and address environmental impacts
  • Combined use of economic modeling and LCA, to inform strategic decision making about the whole range of environmental impacts of investment decisions
  • Attempts of combining LCA with dietary and nutritional aspects of food consumption
  • A movement of combing traditional LCA methodology with the measurement of other non-environmental impacts

The conference reported on methodological advances in assessing land use change, soil carbon and biodiversity, but there is not yet a consensus in the LCA community on how to assess these impacts.

While some technical challenges on methodology, harmonization and availability of information remain, the overall sentiment at the conference is that of an increased application of LCA to measure and communicate environmental impacts in the food industry is being utilised.

The next conference will be held in San Francisco in 2014 and the conference participants look forward to increased focus on how LCA can inform policy, weightings, consensus on land use metrics and further advance assessing fisheries and aquaculture.

Jonas presented Edge Environment’s work for Walmart on how LCA analysis can be used to inform a retailer’s sustainability strategy. Click below for:

This work was developed with Fundación Chile and the Sustainability Consortium.



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