In this project, we will build a database that quantifies the impact of different foods on biodiversity, much like an equivalent to the RISE climate database for foods.
Why is this important?
The link between climate and food production is well established, and there are several tools for consumers and decision-makers. For other environmental impact categories and especially biodiversity, there is much less information on food level. We also believe that there are synergies and conflicts between climate and biodiversity for several food products, and by quantifying biodiversity impacts, these can be clarified in a more systematic way.
What will we do in the project?
In this project, we will calculate the effects on biodiversity for a large number of food products. The focus is on food consumed in Sweden, which includes products from Swedish agriculture as well as imported food. We will build a database, much like an equivalent to RISE food climate database.
Future areas of application for the biodiversity database include: choosing foods and ingredients with a positive or low negative impact on biodiversity, finding biodiversity hotspots in the production chain, consumer information, etc.
There are several challenges
There are several methodological challenges when we calculate biodiversity at product level. Consider for example the product milk. Feed is grown on the farm and the animals graze, which can have both a positive and negative impact on biodiversity. Further, it is not uncommon for some of the feed to be imported from different parts of the world, and these effects must also be included. There are also several other inputs to the farm that affect biodiversity; electricity production, extraction of mineral fertilizers from mines, extraction of fossil fuels and so on. In other words, calculations can become very complex.
In this project, we will not be able to cover all effects in the value chain, but will have to focus on what we believe has the greatest impact on the biodiversity footprint. We will also not be able to include all food products on the Swedish market in the calculations. But these are the first steps on a longer journey!
The project is led by RISE in collaboration with the retail company Coop, which will assist with data collection and user trials of the database at the end of the project.