Analysis of the environmental impacts of a selection of commonly purchased food products to inform policy making and the provision of information for consumers, including through Environment Direct. The products based approach is intended to complement other research and policy on food industry, farming, natural resources and the environment within Defra and help develop synergies between them.
Some questions which the research might address include:
· What does the evidence tell us about the most significant environmental impacts for specific products and where they occur in the food chain?
· How might existing trends affect the profile of these impacts in the future?
· How significant are impacts occurring outside the UK?
· What measures might be useful for summarising the impacts of a particular product (energy intensity, land-take, resource use, economic valuation)?
· How might an index of the environmental impact of a typical food “basket” be developed?
· Can we identify general patterns of food production and consumption that are more or less environmentally damaging?
· Taking into account other factors such as economic issues, trends in consumer choice, existing government policies and industry action, which environmental impact areas might be considered priority areas to address, through government policy or the development of consumer information
· What changes could be made by producers, retailers or consumers to reduce or avoid these impacts?
It is envisaged that Stage 1 of the project will be a scoping exercise, based on initial understanding/review of evidence and involving Defra food and environment policy leads and economists, and other stakeholders (e.g. retailers) as appropriate. The study should address the following areas:
· identification of key research questions - to include consideration of the sorts of questions that analysis of the life cycle can help answer and the questions that might be raised by existing evidence and research activities
· defining the product to include in the “basket” - to consider factors that will influence product selection
· defining the scope and methodology for the comparative analysis of products taking into account resource and time constraints - to include the impacts to be assessed (e.g. environmental, economic, national, international), the balance between literature review and new research, and the approach to comparing and evaluating different environmental impacts
Stage 2 will involve undertaking the work scoped and described in Stage 1, to deliver information suitable for policy makers. The approach will vary depending on the balance between review and analysis of existing evidence (including literature and data sources), and new research into life cycle impacts.