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Is LCA-based eco-labelling reasonable ? The issue of tropical food products

Basset-Mens C., Benoist A., Bessou C., Tran T., Perret S., Vayssières J., Wassenaar T.. 2010. In : 7th International Conference on Life Cycle Assessment in the Agri-Food Sector, September 22-24, 2010. s.l. : s.n., 6 p.. International Conference on Life Cycle Assessment in the Agri-Food Sector. 7, 2010-09-22/2010-09-24, Bari (Italie).

In the light of near future compulsory LCA based eco-labelling in France, the LCA literature on major tropical food imports was reviewed. About 70 studies covering five food product categories were considered. Observations were similar across these categories of fruits and vegetables, rice, stimulant beverages, vegetable oils and animal products: most assessments are either partial (often one or two impact categories), or lack a comprehensive description of the methodology and data used. In addition to this scarcity of comprehensive LCA studies, methodological weaknesses are generally observed, especially regarding the failure to consider farming systems diversity, the lack of specific methods and data for their inventory (especially field emissions), the absence of crucial environmental indicators for tropical systems such as biodiversity and water use. The state of the art of tropical food product LCAs is too immature to enable a fair assessment of these products in an eco-labelling program. Specific methodological issues and key challenges for research arising from this review are discussed.

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