Home About Browse Search

Multi-criteria evaluation of plant-based foods -use of environmental footprint and LCA data for consumer guidance

Karlsson Potter, Hanna and Röös, Elin (2021). Multi-criteria evaluation of plant-based foods -use of environmental footprint and LCA data for consumer guidance. Journal of Cleaner Production. 280 , 124721
[Research article]

[img] PDF


Many consumers are willing to move to a more plant-based diet, as is apparent from the increasing demand for plant-based protein sources on many markets. There is scientific evidence that such diets are associated with lower environmental impacts, especially climate impact, land use, and energy use. However, all food production affects the environment, and there is scope for more sustainable food choices even among plant-based foods. We present a method for environmental multi-criteria evaluation of plant-based products to enable communication through a consumer guide, which was developed in cooperation with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Sweden and involves a real-life case of implementation. The guide included 90 products, divided into five product groups. Four environmental impact categories were evaluated (climate impact, biodiversity impact, water use, pesticide use), to give a fuller, more complex picture of potential environmental impacts of plant-based products than when evaluating only one impact category, such as climate impact. Available environmental footprint data and LCA data adapted for the specific consumer market (Sweden) were used. A method for calculating absolute sustainability thresholds for single products was developed, based on newly published global sustainability boundaries for the food system (Willett et al., 2019). To account for the different dietary functions of food, different thresholds for evaluating different food groups were applied, thus accounting for the role, and to some extent the nutrient content, of different food products. This enabled evaluation of foods based on the same grounds, i.e., using the global sustainability boundaries and the same functional unit for all food products (1 kg of food at a store in Sweden), while visualizing differences in environmental impacts of products within a certain food group. This revealed the best choice of protein sources, vegetables, etc. The method provides a way to use large amounts of data of varying quality, and reduces the complexity in evaluating the environmental impacts of food. It therefore hopefully facilitates sustainable plant-based food choices, for more environmentally sustainable food consumption. (C) 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Authors/Creators:Karlsson Potter, Hanna and Röös, Elin
Title:Multi-criteria evaluation of plant-based foods -use of environmental footprint and LCA data for consumer guidance
Series Name/Journal:Journal of Cleaner Production
Year of publishing :2021
Article number:124721
Number of Pages:12
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 4 Agricultural Sciences > 401 Agricultural, Forestry and Fisheries > Food Science
(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 5 Social Sciences > 502 Economics and Business > Economics
Keywords:Environmental impact, Vegetarian food, Consumer communication, Consumer guide
Permanent URL:
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
Web of Science (WoS)000612538300002
ID Code:22838
Faculty:NJ - Fakulteten för naturresurser och jordbruksvetenskap
Department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Energy and Technology
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:26 Mar 2021 08:03
Metadata Last Modified:26 Mar 2021 08:11

Repository Staff Only: item control page


Downloads per year (since September 2012)

View more statistics