5.2 Food production and consumption system in Europe


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5.2 Food production and consumption system in Europe

  1. 1. course PRODUCT-SERVICE SYSTEM DESIGN FOR SUSTAINABILITY subject 4. Design exercise – sustainable system concept for eating in Politecnico di Bovisa campus learning resource 4.2 Food production and consumption system in Europe contributors: Fabrizio Ceschin, Carlo Vezzoli, Daniel Metcalfe & Hussain Indorewala Politecnico di Milano / Faculty of Design / INDACO Dep. / Italy LeNS, the Learning Network on Sustainability: Asian-European multi-polar network for curricula development on Design for Sustainability focused on product service system innovation. Funded by the Asia-Link Programme, EuroAid, European Commission.
  2. 2. Contents <ul><li>. the European food production & consumption chain </li></ul><ul><li>. four characteristics to be underlined </li></ul><ul><li>. key sustainability issues </li></ul><ul><li>The presentation is based on the work did by TISCHNER, U. & KJAERNES, U., ‘Sustainable consumption and production in the agriculture and food domain’, in LAHLOU. S., EMMERT, S. (ed.), Proceedings: SCP cases in the field of food, mobility and housing, Proceedings of the Sustainable Consumption Research Exchange (Paris), June 2007, pp. 201-237 </li></ul>
  3. 3. the Food production & consumption chain
  4. 4. The Food production & consumption system FARMERS AND CATTLEMEN : Agricultural production of raw materials FOOD PROCESSORS: Several stages: Refinement of raw materials, production of end products RETAILERS: Different types of, also directly from farmer to consumer: Sell food to commercial and private customers PRIVATE CONSUMERS: Consume food with or without own preparation COMMERCIAL CUSTOMERS: Prepare food and offer to consumers CONSUMERS OR OTHER ORGANISATIONS: Remove and reuse food leftovers CONSUMERS OR OTHERS, MUNICIPALITY : Final disposal/ composting of food waste. LANDSCAPE Societal, Economical and Technological trends CONTEXT AND REGIME CONDITION Influence of Policy, Research centres, Media, NGOs… Production and supply of auxiliary materials, machines, packaging etc. by DIVERSE SUPPLIERS TRANSPORT AND PACKAGING between every production step and normally also at all different stages of processing, retail and between commercial customers and private consumers.
  5. 5. INDUSTRIALISED FOOD, GLOBALISATION OF AND POWER CONCENTRATION IN THE FOOD CHAIN - Food production has become an industry. Additional processing steps have been added between farmer and consumer - Conventional agriculture worldwide is still becoming more intensified with a greater use of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, and technical devices and growing average farm size, with materials being transported over large distances, being processed in countries with low labour cost FARMERS
  6. 6. FARMERS FARMERS UNDER PRESSURE - Farmers are aware of the problems of industrial agriculture: increasing dependency on energy and fertilizer inputs; long and complex marketing chain of which they are a tiny (with big food processors dictating the prices)
  7. 7. FOOD PROCESSORS POWER CONCENTRATION IN FEW HANDS - EU industry is the worlds leading exporter of food products and has a positive trade balance - More than 70% of the agricultural goods produced in the EU are transformed into food industry products. - Also in food processing there are fewer and fewer companies sharing the market, thus power is concentrated in fewer hands in the system
  8. 8. RETAILERS POWER CONCENTRATION IN FEW HANDS - Fewer and fewer larger and larger retail chains share the market and fight mainly using low price policy - Small stores can only survive, if they have special quality products or services and are innovative, or very much embedded in local culture and traditions - Often big retailers can dictate prices to agricultural producers and processors in the current system
  9. 9. CONSUMERS CONSUMPTION TRENDS - Over-consumption of calories per capita - Consumption of highly processed food (fast and convenience food), accompanied by a decreasing knowledge about nutrition and food - Reduction of the average preparation time for food products - Increasing awareness about hunger and obesity/ health aspects of food - Declining trust in food safety
  10. 10. CONSUMERS CONSUMPTION CONTRA-TRENDS - Slow Food movement, to preserve and strengthen the cultural cuisine and tradition, safeguard the related food plants and seeds, domestic animals, and farming - Increasing organic food consumption - Increasing awareness of f air trade relationships with stakeholders in emerging and low-industrialised countries
  11. 11. DISPOSAL - Separate collection of rubbish (organic, plastic, metal, glass & undifferentiated) is generally diffused and effective - However it has to be underlined the high quantity of food that is disposed because has not been consumed (food remnants) or because it has gone out-of-date. CONSUMERS, MUNICIPALITY & OTHERS
  12. 12. Main issues to be underlined in the European food production & consumption chain
  13. 13. 1. Moving towards cereal mono-culture crops <ul><li>“ If you are what you eat, and especially if you eat industrial food, as 99% of Americans do, what you are is corn...” Michael Pollan </li></ul><ul><li>Cereals like corn and soya are crops that are easy to be industrialized, and therefore are taking the place of many traditional crops, reducing biodiversity. </li></ul><ul><li>The access of these cereals in industrial countries is diverted towards the livestock industry (and later to the biodisel industry). </li></ul><ul><li>Industrial agriculture on mono cultures is highly dependent on artificial fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, pesticides which are the main cause of water and soil Pollution. </li></ul>VIDEO “01 b”
  14. 14. 1. Moving towards cereal mono-culture crops <ul><li>Cereal consumption (industrialised contexts) </li></ul><ul><li>(Kg of cereals consumed in one year per capita) </li></ul><ul><li>There is an over-production of cereals, but each person cannot eat more than 150 kg in one year. </li></ul><ul><li>For this reason cereals are used to feed livestock (even if this is not the natural feed for animals), produce alcohol drinks and other industrial products. </li></ul>250 Kg 700-1000 Kg Pre-Industrial Industrial Direct consumption Animal products Alcohol drinks Industrial products
  15. 15. 2. Fuel dependency In the United States, 262400 liters of oil equivalents are expended annually to feed each American. Agricultural energy consumption is broken down as follows: 31% for the manufacture of inorganic fertilizer 19% for the operation of field machinery 16% for transportation 13% for irrigation 08% for raising livestock (not including livestock feed) 05% for crop drying 05% for pesticide production 08% miscellaneous Energy costs for packaging, refrigeration, transportation to retail outlets, and household cooking are not considered in these figures
  16. 16. 3. Meat industry and un-sustainability “ Meat production is the most important contributing factor to the un- sustainability of food in Western countries. We have known for a long time that in terms of using natural resources, a lot is lost by feeding animals with food, which we could actually eat directly ourselves”. Meat and dairy production account for 13.5% of total GHG emissions in the EU25. Animal protein production requires more than 8 times as much fossil- fuel energy than production of plant protein. Energy input to protein output ratio of beef is 54:1, of lamb is 50:1, for eggs its 26:1, for pork its 17:1, for milk protein 14:1, for turkey meat it is 13:1, and finally chicken meat is 4:1. Agriculture accounts for 80% and livestock production alone consumes 50% of all water used in the U.S. VIDEO “01 c”
  17. 17. 4. Genetic Modified Organism (GMO) Corn and soya were the first crops to be genetically modified, and by the year 2000 more then half of corn and soya grown in the US was genetically modified. Strong multinational companies lobby for GMO (farmers are dependent from these companies because GMO plants often yeld sterile seeds. GMO seeds can contaminate regular crops (see video). There is also the possibility that GMOs could introduce new allergens into foods, or contribute to the spread of antibiotic resistance. The risk connected to the use of GMO seed, for environment and human health, is however unclear. Nevertheless there should be the adoption of the “precaution” principle. VIDEO “01 d”
  18. 18. Key sustainability issues
  19. 19. NOT ENOUGH LAND FOR FEEDING THE WORLD’S POPULATION - It is expected that in 2050 9 billion people would require between 1.8 and 2.2 Earth-sized planets in order to sustain their consumption of crops, meat, fish, and wood - Food security (having enough food for all), will demand area and yield expansions that are not easily achievable - It has to be underlined that the problem here is not (only) the growing population but (especially) the very unsustainable consumption levels in industrialised countries (that are now also influencing the demands in emerging countries) Environmental dimension
  20. 20. Environmental dimension LIFE CYCLE IMPACTS OF FOOD PRODUCTS - The main environmental impacts are determined by the PRIMARY PRODUCTION STAGE (growing crops and cattle); these impacts are due to land and pesticide use, over-fertilisation and energy consumption for agricultural equipment and for other inputs such as cattle fodder. Only for ENERGY USE there are relevant contributions from other stages of the life cycle, such as production, storage (cooling), and transportation. PACKAGING generally contributes less than 5% to the total energy consumption - an important contribution on the overall impacts is given by FOOD LOSSES , which occur in every link of the food chain
  21. 21. Environmental dimension BIODIVERSITY - habitats and species are under increasing threat from intensive agriculture due to the emphasis on increasing yields
  22. 22. HAVING GOOD FOOD FOR ALL - Having enough healthy food for all: this is a key problem both in emerging and low industrialised contexts (where people often have to little food and/or unbalanced diets), and in industrialised contexts (where people often get diseases related to over-consumption and unbalanced diets) Socio-ethical dimension
  23. 23. Socio-ethical dimension FAIR TRADING RELATIONSHIPS Between the different stakeholders of the value chain. - Within northern countries we have to consider the relations between farmers on one hand, and food processing companies and supermarket chains on the other - Between the North and the South of the world the problem is between small scale producers in the South and big multinational corporate buyers from the North VIDEO “01 e”
  24. 24. Socio-ethical dimension CULTURAL DIVERSITY AND FOOD TRADITIONS - Another issue to be considered is the continuing loss of cultural diversity and food traditions, mainly caused by the one-dimensional food offers determined all around the world by multinational food producers
  25. 25. Socio-ethical dimension INFORMATION AND TRANSPARENCY IN RELATION TO THE FINAL USER - Sometimes the complexity of the food chain determines for consumers the difficulty in gathering information on the involved stakeholders, and so in having information (for example about trading relationships with farmers in the South, animal conditions, use of GMO, etc.). Therefore it is quite hard for consumers to take responsibility of their choices and behavior.
  26. 26. Sustainable food?
  27. 27. Defining sustainable food “ Sustainable food consumption can be defined as access and use by all present and future generations of the food necessary for an active, healthy life , through means that are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable .” Lefin (2008)
  28. 28. Defining sustainable food “ The goal cannot be to reduce consumption of food as much as possible, but to figure out which kinds of food , produced and processed where and in what way, prepared how and by whom, consumed, digested, with leftovers disposed off or even reused in what way etc. are the most sustainable options for different regions and cultures , different productions systems and consumers/ citizens . Food consumption and its sustainability cannot be considered as such, but in a broader system including the production, processing, transportation, packaging, preparation, and disposal of food , each of the various stages being possibly analyzed both in terms of their impact on the environment and on human health. ” Tischner and Kjaernes (2007)