Agribalyse 3.0 is a database operated by Ademe that integrates environmental data on agricultural products and consumption. These data are indicators of their effects on the environment from the field to the plate (climate, water, air, soil, etc.). They include the stages of production of agricultural raw materials, food processing, packaging and logistics, storage, transportation and distribution, and consumer use. It is likely that this database will be used for environmental labeling of products for human consumption, although specific methods have not yet been fully decided. Therefore, it is important for the pork industry to understand the data there.
More expensive, dry and cooked products have a greater effect
Among the different categories of food products, animal products show a greater impact per kilogram of product, especially when compared to plant products. This comes from the fact that animals themselves eat plant products for food. Within pork products, a more detailed view of sub-groups makes it possible to better understand internal variation.
By considering climate change as a tracer, we see that the products that emit the most greenhouse gases are dry-cured hams and cooked or raw meat. The lowest emitters are cooked hams and charcuterie products with sausages, sausages, pâtés and rillettes. The effect will mainly depend on the economic value of the cuts: when pork is cut, cuts of greater economic value will offset more of the impact from upstream pork production than cuts of less low cost. In fact, the distribution of effects is based on a method of economic allocation.
This applies especially to the slaughter stage by distributing the effects of the incoming live pig between the various outgoing co-products. The effect will also depend on the product processing steps. In the case of a dry ham, drying leads to a reduction in mass. The effects are “concentrated” in less material, leading to more environmental impact per kilogram of product. This result is related to the fact that the functional unit used is the total kilogram of the product sold. The lower impact of charcuterie products is mainly due to the fact that cheaper inputs are used, such as fat for example.
Finally, for meats, a cooked product will have more of an effect than a raw product. But this distinction is somewhat artificial because the cooking step takes place later at the consumer.
The raw material weighs 80% of the effects
A detailed analysis of the contribution of the different production stages for two pork products (pork chop and cooked ham) shows that the agricultural stage up to the farm gate is the most strategic: it explains 80% and more of the impact on climate change, acidification, eutrophication and land use, and 75% of water consumption.
However, the impact on fossil energy consumption shows a major role of the stages of slaughter, cutting and processing. The effects of the pig butcher at the farm gate are determined by two main stages: the production of animal feeds and the management of animals and their effluents with their direct emissions occurring on the farm. Direct emissions of greenhouse gases (methane and nitrous oxide) contribute to climate change with a significant contribution from methane. Ammonia emissions from effluents contribute to the effects of acidification and eutrophication. The direct consumption of animal resources (water and energy) explains between 25% and 30% of the corresponding impacts on water and fossil fuel consumption. Agribalyse data is and will be widely used in the context of demonstration and eco-design. Understanding them and allocating them are therefore key assets for being a player in progress and making the environment a factor of competitiveness.
Effect calculation method
Impacts are calculated per kilogram of raw products for various environmental criteria, the most prominent of which are climate change, fossil fuel consumption, acidification, and land use. A score combines these different effects. It puts a lot of weight on climate change because of the huge damage associated with this effect. Work is underway to refine the assessment and in particular better take into account the impact on biodiversity.