Life cycle assessment of Danish pork exports using different cooling technologies and comparison of upstream supply chain efficiencies between Denmark, China and Australia

Alexandra Bonou, Tracey Anne Colley*, Michael Zwicky Hauschild, Stig Irving Olsen, Morten Birkved

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This study completed a cradle-to-retailer life cycle assessment of Danish export pork and provided a comparative assessment of six after cooling technologies for the supply of pork meat to three markets, Denmark, China and Australia. Nine different pork products delivered to retailers were assessed for fourteen midpoint impact categories. Given the higher efficiency of the Danish pork production system, the relatively small impact of transportation, the relatively large contribution of feed production, and the higher yield of crop production in Denmark, Danish pork production could provide a more sustainable pork supply if issues relating to consumer acceptance of superchilled products and cold chain integrity can be addressed. The human edible protein required (HEPR) in feed to produce one kilogram of human edible protein was over 4 for all supply chains, Denmark had the lowest value of 4.17, 4.27 for Australia and 4.56-5.52 for China, largely due to differences in feed conversion efficiencies. The amount of arable land required to produce one kilogram of human edible pork protein ranged from 38 m2 in Denmark, to 44-51 m2 in China and 161 m2 in Australia, due to large differences in crop yields of the feed ingredients. Pork production is therefore a net consumer of human edible protein and HEPR and arable land use are useful metrics by which to assess food supply chains. The life cycle assessment study was undertaken as part of an industry research project into using new superchilling technologies for exporting Danish pork to distant markets as fresh rather than frozen product, and the HEPR and arable land study was undertaken as part of a PhD on the sustainability of agribusiness value chains.
Original languageEnglish
Article number118816
JournalJournal of cleaner production
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Pork production
  • Supply chain
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Super-chilling
  • Arable land use
  • Human edible protein required

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