Energy consumption in the various stages of the food chain, provides a reasonable indicator for the environmental impact in the production of food. This paper provides specific information on the energy requirement for the main alternatives in each production stage, which should allow the identification of improvement options. One observation is that there seems to be a remarkable relationship between energy requirement throughout the production chain and market value. Products with a high added (emotional) value, e.g. wine, season fruits, and coffee, deviate from the abovementioned relationship. However, that deviation may be overcome when the emotional value is included in the functional unit of the food product. It is concluded that there seems to be no systematic environmental benefit for home-made over industrially produced food. For all food categories, there is a wide variety in energy requirement due to three major factors, viz. season of consumption (fresh versus import and glasshouse production), scale of preparation (home-made and industrial scale) and consumer preference (meat versus vegetable food).
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Vol. 29 • No. 2