Carbon Hotspots in the Food and Beverage Industry: Insights from Analyzing the Product Portfolio of a Global Packaged Consumer Goods Company
Christoph J. Meinrenken, Klaus S. Lackner

Some efforts to streamline and accelerate product-level life cycle assessments (LCA) with regards to greenhouse gas emissions (product carbon footprinting, PCF) rely on first grouping products into categories and then building simplified LCA models around emission hotpots. This requires, among others, fundamental understanding of how much such hotspots can vary from product to product, across brands, and country of origin. Here, we apply a novel fast LCA methodology to first quantify and then analyze PCFs of 3,335 stock keeping units (SKUs) of a global food snack and beverage company. We find that the often cited dominance of the supply chain's contribution to the total footprint is valid for large portfolios of products in aggregate (75%-93% contribution). However, this does not remain universally valid when analyzing individual brands and SKUs: At SKU level, the metric varies widely, from 9% (smallest supply chain contribution) to nearly 100%. For 254 of the 3,335 SKUs, less than 50% of overall emissions originate in the supply chain. SKU-level carbon intensity (PCF divided by net SKU weight) varies widely as well, in our sample from 0.1 to 70. It also varies within brands, indicating a design challenge for stream-lined models.SKU-averagecarbon intensityvaries between ~0.4 (beverages) to ~4 (some baked snacks). The portfolio-level footprint (3,335 SKUs in our sample) is highly concentrated: 4% of SKUs contribute 50% of annual GHG; 2.5% of the 6,040 acquired individual raw materials contribute 40% of annual GHG from all raw materials, the majority of the 2.5% being agricultural ingredients.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jaes.v3n4a1