Carbon mapping for pig and poultry

Details of a project which identifies the total carbon footprint of pig and poultry products from the production of feed to retailers' shelves were revealed at the British Pig & Poultry Fair yesterday.

Commissioned by Associated British Nutrition (ABN), which is partnering the Fair, the research, by the Newcastle Business School at Northumbria University, takes the carbon footprint process beyond the farmgate through the whole supply chain to the end consumer for the first time.

Speaking at a press briefing at the British Pig & Poultry Fair at Stoneleigh

Park, project leader Professor David Oglethorpe said: "Like other lifecycle analyses (LCAs), we are mapping the supply chains for a selection of pig and poultry products by tracing them through the manufacture and growing of inputs, primary production operations, first- and second-tier processing and then through packaging, presentation and distribution.

"What has been novel about this project has been the collaboration and coming together of supply chain partners to make this happen and bring it to life.

"Previous LCAs haven't necessarily followed real case studies, whereas this has enabled us to focus on the environmental burdens within some key supply chains and identify where the major CO2-equivalent contributions actually are. By doing this, we now know what the carbon footprints of these products are and, more importantly, are beginning to understand how to reduce them."

Professor Oglethorpe added: "Most of the work done by other researchers has stopped at the farm gate. But, we have gone further to develop an approach that will help producers, processors and retailers identify their carbon footprints and manage them more efficiently to meet the demands of increasingly environmentally conscious consumers.

"This concept will now be taken forward by a PhD student, who will be sponsored by ABN, at the School over the next three years. This will add academic credibility, validation and continued development, not just for agriculture, but for other industries and supply chains, too."

Simon Heath, ABN Director of Business Solutions, said: "We have been working with Professor Oglethorpe and his team at the Newcastle Business School to develop a viable system and process.

"It's not just about being able to accurately measure the kilograms of carbon produced per kg of meat; we also needed to ensure we could develop a process that will allow monitoring and continuous improvement programmes to drive the carbon efficiency of farms and the food supply chain."

Nigel Lee, ABN business development manager, added: "ABN will use this independent work to help to unite the food supply chain and create a differentiated product, based on knowledge, partnership and innovation to add value for everybody.

"Producers need to make sure they are positioned to meet the challenges of tomorrow's consumer demands. The environment is increasingly influencing consumers' purchasing decisions and I feel it is ABN's role to help identify those trends and develop a strategy, working with our partners to ensure we are ready to meet the ever-changing demands."