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Life Cycle Assessment of Pork Production: A Data Inventory for Germany

26 November 2013, at 12:00am

Per kg pork produced, the global warming potential, eutrophication and acidification values in Germany were calculated to be 3.22kg carbon dioxide equivalents, 23.3g phosphate equivalents and 57.1g sulphur dioxide equivalents, respectively.

The world's growing population is continually increasing the demand for food. Hence, food production, especially the production of meat, is put under further pressure to tackle climate change.

According to K. Reckmann and co-authors, two-thirds of the German meat production is covered by pork, which increases the necessity to assess the environmental impacts arising from it.

The aim of their study, published in Livestock Science, was to provide data for an environmental profile of latest pork production in Germany.

A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was conducted for pork production in 2010/2011.

The system boundaries encompassed the production of feedstuffs, the housing of pigs and the slaughtering and production of pork.

In this context, the pig housing stage was modelled using separate data for different housing stages (i.e. farrowing, weaning and finishing). Results for the impact categories global warming potential, eutrophication and acidification are expressed per kg pork as slaughter weight.

The global warming potential was estimated at 3.22kg carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2-eq) per kg pork. Eutrophication showed a value of 23.3g phosphate equivalents (PO4-eq), whereas acidification resulted in 57.1g sulphur dioxide equivalents (SO2-eq) per kg pork.

To estimate the influence of various input parameters, a sensitivity analysis was carried out for four different input parameters. They were related to water and energy use (energy use in feed production, energy use in fattening stage, type of energy used in pig housing and slaughtering, and water use) since literature values differ significantly.

All of them were calculated with three different characterisation methods, namely CML 2 Baseline 2000, EDIP 2003 and IMPACT 2002+.

The only input parameter tested that affected the results was energy use in the fattening stage.


Reckmann K., I. Traulsen and J. Krieter. 2013. Life cycle assessment of pork production: a data inventory for the case of Germany. Livestock Science. 157(2):586-596.

Further Reading

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November 2013