Evaluating food supply chain emissions from Japanese household consumption

January 15, 2022 | Applied Energy 

Introduction: Household consumption, particularly eating habits, significantly impacts greenhouse gas emissions and thus climate change. However, there hasn't been a comprehensive analysis of the entire food supply chain and its environmental impact across different household segments. To fill this gap, an international team of researchers from University of Tokyo in Japan and various research institutes in China and UK uses a modified environmental input-output model to assess food-related carbon footprints in Japan. 

Key findings: Results reveal that over 60% of the carbon footprint stems from food production, while wholesale and retail stages contribute about 38%. Interestingly, the wealthiest households exhibit the highest per capita carbon emissions across all food types, emphasizing income-based differences. In metropolitan areas like Kanto, dining out contributes significantly to emissions. Notably, red meat consumption substantially influences regional and income-based emission disparities. To mitigate household food carbon emissions, optimizing food supply chain management and promoting local consumption of fresh produce and meat are crucial strategies.

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Fig. | Distribution of emissions along the food supply chain by food type (t CO2 per capita / year).