Wheat production & baking process contribute most to the GHG emissions with a level around 80%

The increasing concern of climate change globally has created a wave of carbon footprint programmes to assess the environmental performance of products and services. Carbon footprint, a subset of data from Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), is utilised to quantify the impact of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.

Wheat production makes the largest contribution to the footprint

Flour milling has its own carbon footprint that is closely linked to both agricultural production and the grain chain as a whole. From the "cradle-to-gate" assessment of one tonne of plain flour, wheat production is found to contribute most to the carbon footprint of plain flour with a percentage over 60%.

Working on a "field-to-plate" LCA to quantify GHG emissions

The carbon footprint of one tonne of plain flour is calculated as a sum of the inventory data related to the acquisition of wheat production, transportation, flour mill processing and delivery to customer. However, milling is only the first-processing stage, with wheat being the raw material. Flour would be classed as a “Business-to-Business” (B2B) product, rather than a “Business-to-Consumer” product (B2C), as it is manufactured for use in end products. Therefore, to consider the carbon footprint of flour production all stages up to the secondary processor (flour-based products) must be considered. From a "field-to-plate" assessment of bread, wheat production & the baking process are found to contribute most to the carbon footprint with a percentage around 80%.

Carbon footprint calculation using the physical allocation method

Calculating the carbon footprint of products is a complicated process that requires a very detailed approach. It is important to use a consistent methodology to ensure an accurate, credible result that can be compared with other organisations or products.

For the flour milling sector where the main focus is on production of flour, the most appropriate approach is to use a physical allocation approach in line with ISO 14044.

Member of the Sustainable Consumption & Production (SCP) Roundtable

as Primary Food Processor (PFP). This Roundtable offers a platform for dialogue amongst EU stakeholders of the food supply chain and aims to be a major contributor to sustainable production in the European Union.