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Energy dependency and food chain security - FO0415

Many industries, including agriculture and food manufacturing, have become highly dependent on energy. While direct energy use in agriculture was been estimated to account for 20,387 GWh in 2005 (0.8% of the UK’s carbon emissions) this is only a small part of the energy associated with the entire food chain. Direct energy use in agriculture probably accounts for only a third of the energy use in the sector when you take into account the energy use associated with the manufacture of fertilisers, pesticides, animal feeds and farm equipment. Furthermore, the direct energy use of the food and beverage sector is estimated to be almost four times that of agriculture, and for some commodities the bulk of the energy use is associated with cooking in the home. As a result the energy use from farm to fork can be considerable. A number of studies have estimated that food can account for as much as 20 to 30% of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe. However, these figures include emissions associated with methane, nitrous oxide, and change in land use; as a result the emissions due to the use of fossil fuels will be somewhat less. This studies aims to examine the energy use associated with different food products. We will then predict what might happen to the energy used for food production, processing and distribution if the current trends in consumption continue.

In the 20th century oil prices were relatively cheap (around $20 to $30 a barrel in today’s terms). However, more recently prices have increased and in 2008 the price of crude oil almost reached $150 a barrel. The price then dropped sharply due to the recession, but prices are likely to rise again in the future due to concerns over political instability, vulnerability of supply due to disasters, and increasing demand. We will investigate the relationships between energy and food prices and assess how energy price rises might influence food consumption. We will also examine how businesses manage energy risks.
7. (b) Objectives

1) To summarise the energy use associated with producing, processing and distributing a range of food products
2) Examine trends in food production and consumption and highlight the energy implications if these trends continue
3) Determine which foods will be most sensitive to increased energy prices
4) Examine how food chain businesses manage energy risks, both disruptions and price rises.

Project Documents
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2010

To: 2012

Cost: £205,619
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Warwick - HRI
Energy Demand              
Environmental Performance              
Food and Drink              
Food Chain              
Food Industry Sustainability Strategy              
Food manufacturing industry              
Sustainable Farming and Food              
Sustainable Production              
Fields of Study
Resource Efficient and Resilient Food Chain