Pork Producers Study Footprint
Research conducted by the University of Arkansas found that manure management is a significant factor in carbon emissions, while transportation plays a more minor role; more than 25% of the carbon footprint of pork products occurs at the retail store and home level, according to these findings.
A presentation given by the study’s author at a session of the Minnesota Pork Congress cited economic factors and resource conservation as primary issues to understanding the carbon footprint of pork production. Consumers care about environmental sustainability and there is a possibility that labels may include carbon footprint info at some point in the future.
Thoma recommends that producers conduct a lifecycle analysis (LCA) to determine their footprint and how they can become more efficient. The pork LCA conducted in this research showed that 2.2 lbs of CO2 are generated by each 4 oz. serving of pork. The resulting emission burden for 2.2 CO2 per 4 oz serving of pork is:
- Nursery to finish (including feed and manure handling) 53%
- Retail (electricity and refrigerants) 14%
- Sow barn (including feed and manure handling) 13.6%
- Consumer (refrigeration and cooking) 13%
- Processing and packaging (6.7%)
Researchers also found regional variations in the size of pork’s carbon footprint, with most of the variation occurring in the Eastern United States where production is less than in the central part of the country.