Table of Contents

  • The Swedish Food Administration (Livsmedelsverket) commissioned SIK to conduct a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study of the product segment snacks and soft drinks in order to quantify its impact upon greenhouse-gas emissions, eutrophication and primary energy use. The products studied were crisps, sweets and soft drinks produced in Sweden and consumed in the Scandinavian capitals. The life-cycle phases included in the study are raw material and ingredient production; transportation of raw materials and ingredients; industrial processing (i.e. factory); and transportation to the central warehouse and to the local retailer.

  • Food production is currently estimated to account for around 25% of Sweden’s total impact on the climate, around 75% of eutrophication and around 20% of primary energy use. These figures include all ingredients and resources used throughout the food-production life cycle. These findings have led to increased interest in and demand for greater knowledge of the environmental impact of various food products from producers, public bodies and researchers. In recent years, there has also been increased interest in the impact of food products on the climate.

  • Primary production, i.e. the agricultural production of raw materials, generally accounts for the majority of a product’s environmental impact over its whole life cycle. Subsequent stages in the production chain, e.g. transport, processing and packaging, are generally less significant (with certain exceptions).

  • This project was commissioned by the Swedish Food Administration and funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Swedish Board of Agriculture through its “A Food Strategy for Sweden” (LISS) programme.

  • In the this category, a specific packet of crisps – “lightly salted”, 200g, including contents, manufactured by Svenska Lantchips on a continuous production line – has been selected because it is one of the biggest products (30% of production by volume) made in Sweden by Svenska Lantchips. Crisps from the continuous production line are not sold under the Svenska Lantchips brand, but rather as “private label” products, e.g. as supermarket “own brands”.

  • Below are the results for the four products studied. For each product, an account is given firstly for the life cycle from cultivation of raw materials to factory gate, i.e. until the finished product leaves the factory. This result is divided up in such a way that contributions from ingredients, the production process, transport and packaging are accounted for separately in an illustration. In the case of snack foods, the transport of finished products from the factory gate generally has little impact compared to earlier life-cycle phases, so the pattern of environmental impact in the various impact categories studied will be similar for the product and even between products. The same text therefore reappears in the tables for the total results for each product.

  • The latter part of the 1990s saw an intensification of life-cycle assessments of foodstuffs and food production, which led to an increase in knowledge of the environmental impact of food-production systems. The initial focus of the analyses was on the eutrophication contribution from primary production, but over the last four years this has shifted to food production’s impact upon climate change. It has been found that the greatest environmental impact stems from primary production – i.e. fish farming or the cultivation of crops or animal fodder – and that the relative contribution from this first stage in the life cycle is generally greater for animal than for vegetable products. Primary production often accounts for 90% or more of the eutrophication impact. When life-cycle assessments of food production began to be carried out on a larger scale, their focus was mainly on staple foods. It remains the case today that there are relatively few studies of products in the snack-food category, so the results of this study represent new knowledge.

  • Few studies are available on the environmental impact of snack foods, and no previously published life-cycle assessments of sweets have been found. The results of this analysis therefore represent new knowledge in this field.