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Contrasted greenhouse gas emissions from local versus long-range tomato production

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Theurl, M. C., Haberl, H., Erb, K. H., & Lindenthal, T. (2014). Contrasted greenhouse gas emissions from local versus long-range tomato production. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 34(3), 593-602.

Abstract: Transport from regional production requires less fossil fuel and thus produces lower greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, policies fostering the production of regional goods support rural development. Tomato consumption has increased fast in Europe over the last decade. Intensive production techniques such as heated greenhouses and long-distance transport overcome seasonal constraints in order to provide year-round fresh goods. However, studies that evaluate seasonal and off-season production are scarce. Here, we analyzed the carbon footprint of tomato production systems in Austria, Spain, and Italy using a life cycle approach. We collected data from four main supply chains ending at the point of sale in an average Austrian supermarket. We aimed to identify hotspots of greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production, heating, packaging, processing, and transport. Our results show that imported tomatoes from Spain and Italy have two times lower greenhouse gas emissions than those produced in Austria in capital-intensive heated systems. On the contrary, tomatoes from Spain and Italy were found to have 3.7 to 4.7 times higher greenhouse gas emissions in comparison to less-intensive organic production systems in Austria. Therefore, greenhouse gas emissions from tomato production highly depend on the production system such as the prevalence or absence of heating.

URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13593-013-0171-8

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