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Carbon Footprint of French Grocery Consumption

15 May 2012
BordBia

FRANCE - The CGDD, le Commissariat Général au Développement Durable (French General Commission on Sustainable Development) has published a report which evaluates the carbon content of French consumers shopping baskets in perspective of its impact on the climate, according to Hannah Duffy from the Paris Office of Bord Bia – Irish Food Board.

After examining the purchases of 20,000 consumers over the period of a full year, research shows that the average French consumer’s food, drink and household purchases amounted to 700kg in weight, and 1.4 tons of carbon emissions.

In the document, the CGDD suggests that meats (including meat-based products) account for around one third of the carbon content of the average consumer’s diet while fruit and vegetables represent seven per cent of the carbon content.

The French meat industry association SNIV, has questioned the accuracy of the evaluation, highlighting the fact that the “data has been compiled from various sources”.

The calculations are based on the whole life cycle of each product.

The report suggests that products which are produced locally or are those that are in season are less responsible for carbon emissions.

For meat production, the importation of products which are used for livestock feed and transportation has been taken into account.

Certain methodological issues are still being discussed at a national and international level.

The SNIV association maintains that it would have been more beneficial to compare the carbon content of products in the average shopping basket with the nutritional benefits that each of these provide to a consumer.

Teenagers may consume more meat than consumers of other ages, but this is due to the fact that they need the product’s nutritional benefits during this time in their development.

This study is one of the first of its kind in France, it is clear that much more research needs to be carried out before we have a clear insight into the environmental impact of food and drink consumption, as well as concrete information about French consumer trends in relation to sustainability.

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