Britta Florén, Katarina Nilsson, and Veronica Sund
Nordic Council of Ministers
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. Research is currently being conducted to improve knowledge of the environmental impact of food production. This research could form the basis for measures to reduce the environmental impact of food production and consumption. One segment in which environmental studies have been lacking is the segment often referred to as 'snack food', i.e. sweets, crisps and soft drinks. In Sweden, the consumption of sweets, crisps and soft drinks has increased by around 50% since 1990 (Swedish Board of Agriculture, 2008). Since 2000, snack food has had a significant and stable share of total food consumption. For example, in 2005, the Swedes drank just as much skimmed and semi-skilled milk as soft drinks and cider (approx. 85 litres per person p.a.). It is therefore of interest to compare the environmental impact of this product group with other food groups. The Swedish Food Administration, with funding from the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Swedish Board of Agriculture (via its 'A Food Strategy for Sweden' programme (LISS)), has therefore commissioned SIK (the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology) to quantify greenhouse-gas emissions, eutrophication and energy use for selected products in the category 'snacks and soft drinks'. For the last 15 years, SIK has studied the environmental and climate-change impact of food using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) analyses. It has built up a unique skill set and database in this area, which has been put to good use in this project.