Research project
24 | monthsLCA_FOO

The life cycle assessment as tool for food and nutritional analysis

Related toSpoke 01

Principal investigators
Riccardo Guidetti

Other partecipantsRoberto Beghi, Valentina Giovenzana, Agata Matarazzo, Alessandro Scuderi e Gaetano Chinnici (UNICT); P. Santamaria, P. Portincasa, R.Roma, A. De Boni
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Task involved

Task 1.1.2.

Sustainable accountancy and accountability approaches for selected value chains with definition of tools, indicators, and data (primary and secondary) for measuring sustainability, short and long-distance value chains, and food environments (e.g., Life Cycle Assessment, CHG protocol, Risk-Benefit Assessment, Local Multiplier3, FAO-SAFA).

Project deliverables


Report on indexes and metrics of sustainability of short and long-distance value chains and food environments (M12)


Report on good practices related to sustainable accountability and communication approaches in quality value chains (M24)

State of the art

The Life cycle assessment (LCA) systems for assessing environmental impacts, despite being standardized (ISO 14040 and ISO 14044) and shared approaches, can be the starting point for the development of new indicators aimed at evaluating qualitative aspects of the food production include the nutritional aspects correlated the process and transformations along the value chain. LCA can be considered as one of the most suitable indicators for quality assessment of food products obtained from different production techniques (from the hydroponic cultivations up to filed crops) along the whole value chains.  Mostly the study based on LCA methodology are based on functional units that do not evaluate the real nutritional impact of foods while even the impacts require further reflections aimed to enrich the overall assessments of the environmental impacts by including nutritional choices and the presence of residues.

Operation plan

The research activity, has the objective to define new approaches for the environmental and nutritional assessment of food value chains will consider the following steps:
1. Literature review on main methodological approaches of LCA to sustainability assessment (linked with activities of D1.1.21). 
2. Definition of New Functional Units based on food qualitative parameters.
3. Elaboration of new tools to support the choices of each actor of the food production chain (suppliers, buyers, processors, etc.); the tools must be immediate and use the information available at the supply chain level.
4. Test the new tools in different scenarios (“How can I make a choice in food chain to reduce the environmental impact while considers nutritional aspects?”).
5. Case study analysis on value chains related to Mediterranean productions (wine, citrus, olive and durum wheat) and soilless cultivations as different tomato species and microgreens.

Expected results

The project will arrive at defining easy-to-use tools that will support the choice of stakeholders in sustainable terms. Using these tools, it will be possible to "weigh" the environmental impact to strategies that are closer to the environment and nutritional needs while environmental risks and benefits are identified.
The activities developed in the task could provide a dataset of primary data related to The holistic nutritional quality and the primary and secondary health outcomes for different set of Mediterranean food products obtained through different production techniques. The analysis of the environmental impacts will contribute to the definitions of Code of specifications and related sustainable accountancy approaches for different distribution channels.