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From Field to Fork: The Impact of Food Supply Chains

By understanding your supply chain you can cut business costs, pinpoint inefficiencies, lower your environmental impacts and prepare yourself for new industry standards.

By 2050, the world's population is estimated to increase by nearly 2 billion people to reach 9.7 billion. With food systems accounting for approximately one third of global greenhouse gasses, the question stands: how can we produce enough food to feed the growing billions, whilst simultaneously mitigating climate change? 

The answer to this question lies in sustainable food production and distribution. To achieve this, we must first discuss how food production impacts the environment and your business. You can then use this knowledge to determine where changes can be made to reduce your impact on climate change and business costs, and align with a new wave of conscious consumers and industry standards.


What is a food supply chain?

Let’s start from the basics. The food supply chain is a complex, interconnected system that encompasses the entire journey of your food products. It includes production, processing, packaging, transport, retail, and finally consumption. At each stage, various actors and activities play a crucial role in transforming raw agricultural products into a diverse array of food items that are available to end-consumers. 


Where do food industry emissions come from in the supply chain?

  1. Primary production: farming

The majority of our food emissions come from farming (72%) being generated by crop and feed production, livestock rearing, aquaculture and capture fisheries and deforestation, 50% of the world's habitable land is used for agriculture and almost 90% of deforestation is driven by agriculture and pasture grazing.

  1. Manufacturing: processing, packaging

A further 9% of food emissions come from food processing and packaging. These emissions are from energy-intensive processing plants and the production and disposal of food packaging materials. 36% of plastic produced goes to food packaging (and other packaging purposes), with packaging pollution driven by materials choices, consumer demand for convenience, and recycling inefficiencies. 

  1. Distribution: transport, storage

According to a recent study the transportation of food products over long distances accounts for almost 5% of the total food systems global carbon emissions. These emissions have been driven by globalization and consumer demand for out-of-season produce. The storage of food in warehouses and retailers contributes to 4% of food related emissions due to energy consumption associated with lighting, cooling, and heating in retail spaces. Often operating long hours, food retail facilities require substantial energy inputs, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and the strain on power grids. In the UK, commercial food outlets collectively account for approximately 3% of the nation's total energy usage and 1% of the overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

  1. Use phase: cooking, food waste

The journey from supply chain to plate isn't complete without addressing the significant impacts of cooking and food waste. High-energy cooking methods often amplify carbon emissions contributing for almost 3% of food systems emissions. Food waste, generated at both consumer and restaurant levels, rots in landfills, releasing potent methane gas and squandering precious resources - a whopping 1.3 billion tonnes of food is lost or wasted globally each year!


Benefits of knowing your supply chain

Promote Sustainable Dining

By now you should know: you have a unique opportunity to influence consumer behavior,  drive sales and bolster your branding through sustainable foods. By curating menus that emphasize sustainable choices, you can encourage environmentally conscious dining decisions, whilst actively engaging in consumer education to raise awareness on food-related emissions.

Food Industry Reports

Transparency is key to building trust and accountability in the pursuit of sustainability. Therefore, by publishing your sustainability reports, disclosing your environmental impacts, goals, and progress, you can demonstrate your commitments to transparency and promote trust with consumers. These reports will be vital as the government deliberates on mandatory reporting going forward; for instance, the UK government recently launched their Food Data Transparency Partnership, exploring the implementation of mandatory public reporting to encourage the industry to produce healthier, ethical and sustainable food. Therefore, it won’t be long before you will have to share your supply chain with the world, so why not make it the best it can be now?

Make Better Business Decisions 

Sustainability reports aren't just paperwork: they're the roadmap to success.They provide valuable insights into resource efficiency, supply chain resilience, and customer expectations - information that can be used to make informed decisions, reduce operational costs, and tap into the growing market for sustainable products. 

Reduce Food Waste

Food waste is a significant environmental issue, and you can make strides in reducing it. By optimizing inventory management, minimizing food waste during preparation, and donating excess food to local charities, you can contribute to a more efficient and sustainable food system. Additionally, implementing composting and recycling programs can further reduce food waste impacts. This implementation of responsible resource management will resonate positively with consumers, boosting brand loyalty and market appeal.


Life Cycle Assessment ( LCA

What is a LCA?

The Life Cycle Assessment methodology (also known as Life Cycle Analysis) provides a framework to assess the environmental impacts of products and services. All raw materials and activities involved in the life cycle of the product or service under study are collected and processed through sophisticated models and softwares to assess their cumulative environmental impact. Various impacts can be studied through the LCA methodology, such as global warming potential (which quantifies the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change), water use, land use and nutrient pollution among others. The results shed light on where the impacts mostly originate along the production process and can orient towards potential solutions to minimize environmental harm.

Why are LCAs useful?

LCAs can empower businesses, policymakers, and consumers alike to make informed decisions that drive sustainable practices, from choosing low carbon packaging to sourcing locally and supporting regenerative agriculture.

Companies within the food sector can gain a comprehensive understanding of every stage in the food supply chain, from field to fork. This entails considering the entire life cycle of a product, from the acquisition of raw ingredients, production, transportation, and packaging to consumption and disposal.



At Klimato, we provide the key to unlocking your supply chain’s climate impact. By combining LCA research and specific primary data from your supply chain, we assess the total greenhouse gas emissions (in CO2e) from your products or organization, identify the stages that mostly contribute to GHG emissions and develop a strategy to reduce them. Through CO2e labeling, you can communicate these figures directly to consumers. In an era where transparency and conscious consumerism continuously grow, seize the opportunity to be an agent of positive change, harnessing the powers of Klimato and fuelling the food revolution.


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