Rising Food Consumption Puts the Planet Under Pressure

An assessment of the environmental footprint of expanding food consumption of European households

  • News 21.10.2020

Food is a basic human need, but over-consumption, scarcity and insecurity pose a threat to people's health and quality of life. The food system is a complex global network of production, consumption and trade. As such, it is shaped by various economic, ecological, political, technological and social factors. But social well-being and sustainability are also inextricably linked to the food system. Sustainable nutrition can not only reduce the impact of food production on the environment and climate, but also contribute to food security.

Prof. Dr. Philipp Schepelmann, Senior Researcher in the Research Unit Urban Transitions in the Energy, Transport and Climate Policy Division, José Acosta Fernandez and Mathieu Saurat, Researchers in the Research Unit Sectors and Technologies in the Future Energy and Industry Systems Division at the Wuppertal Institut and other scientists have calculated the impact of European food consumption on the environment, the economy and employment. The results have just been published in the article "Driving Forces of Changing Environmental Pressures from Consumption in the European Food System" in a special edition of the science journal "Sustainability".

The authors shows that over the past years improvements in the supply chain have decreased the environmental footprint of European food consumption. The ecological improvements and other positive economic effects are the result of changes of the product mix consumed by European households. However, progress had been offset by growth of food consumption. The findings support the hypothesis that in industrialised societies increased affluence resulting in economic growth is the main driver of resource consumption and environmental pressure on the planet.

The article is available under the link below.

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