Environmental improvement potentials of meat and dairy products

Weidema B P, Wesnæs M, Hermansen J, Kristensen T, Halberg N (2008)

Publication info

Eder P & Delgado L (eds.) Sevilla: Institute for Prospective Technological Studies. (EUR 23491 EN).


The report is a scientific contribution to the European Commission’s Integrated Product Policy framework, which seeks to minimise the environmental degradation caused throughout the life cycle of products.

This report first presents a systematic overview of the life cycle of meat and dairy products and their environmental impacts, covering the full food chain. It goes on to provide a comprehensive analysis of the improvement options that allow reducing the environmental impacts throughout the life cycle. Finally, the report assesses the different options regarding their feasibility as well as their potential environmental and socioeconomic benefits and costs.

The report shows that meat and dairy products contribute on average 24% to the environmental impacts from the total final consumption in EU-27, while constituting only 6% of the economic value. The main improvement options were identified in agricultural production, in food management by households (avoidance of food wastage), and related to power savings. When all environmental improvement potentials are taken together, the aggregated environmental impacts (external costs) of meat and dairy products may be reduced by about 20%.

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