Global food miles responsible for nearly 20% of all food emissions


Eating habits nowadays leads to significant costs to the environment, with a recent report released by Nature Food indicating that ‘food miles’ accounts for 19% of food supply chain emissions, three times more than previously thought. 

The report also pointed out that high-income countries account for 46% of global food-mile carbon emissions despite having merely 12.5% of the world population. 

The report said that worldwide food mechanisms account for approximately 30% of total human-produced carbon dioxide emissions due to transportation, manufacturing, and land cover. As a result, food miles, which account for approximately 6%, are significant ratio for carbon pollution.

The research team used the FoodLab platform to examine 74 countries, 37 economic sectors like livestock or vegetables, and four transportation modes to create a simulation that covers the whole global supply system.

Agricultural transportation emits 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, amounting for 19% of overall food-related emissions. While the largest countries in the world, such as China, India, and the US, make up the most of these food emissions, smaller wealthy nations tend to have higher carbon footprint per capita. 

The situation is owing to the practice of privileged purchasers requiring inclement food products all year, which must be transported from somewhere else. This is especially important for fruits and vegetables, which must be cooled before being delivered all over the world, adding to the carbon footprint. 

Transportation related to fruits and vegetables generate up to 36% of the total food-mile emissions, equivalent to 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, nearly doubling the amount of emissions from their production. On the other hand, meat production emits around 3 billion tonnes of carbon, while transportation costs a little over 100 million tonnes. 

The research thus highlighted that in order to cut global emissions, consuming regionally should be promoted, particularly in prosperous nations.

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