the impacts of food choices on the state of the baltic sea an example of eiolca study n.
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The impacts of food choices on the state of the Baltic Sea – an example of EIOLCA Study. Virpi Vorne 1 , Yrjö Virtanen 2 , Sirpa Kurppa 2 , Sanna Hietala 1 , Matti Verta 3 , Juha Grönroos 3 , Liina Laumets 4 and Elina Līce 5.

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the impacts of food choices on the state of the baltic sea an example of eiolca study
The impacts of food choices on the state of the Baltic Sea – an example of EIOLCA Study

Virpi Vorne1, Yrjö Virtanen2, Sirpa Kurppa2, Sanna Hietala1, Matti Verta3, Juha Grönroos3,

Liina Laumets4 and Elina Līce5

1MTT Biotechnology and Food Research, P.O.Box 413, FI-90014 University of Oulu, Finland,

2 MTT Biotechnology and Food Research, FI-31600 Jokioinen, Finland,

3 Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), P.O.Box 140, FI-00251 Helsinki, Finland,

4 University of Tartu, Ülikooli 18, 50090 Tartu, Estonia,

5 University of Latvia, 19 Raina Blvd., Riga, LV 1586, Latvia,

Baltic Sea is generally considered one of the most polluted seas in the world. Agriculture and the food chain are largely responsible for eutrophication and pollution of waterways. Food consumption forms a significant part of the environmental load of households. Environmental aspect is coming more important when selecting the diet. Production of food for humans can impact negatively on the Baltic Sea, and aquatic food products from the Baltic Sea may cause problems to humans as a result of toxins in the marine environment. This is a circular problem in the Baltic ecosystem addressed in the FOODWEB –project*. Statistical data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAOSTAT) Food Balance Sheets were used to describe the structure of food consumption and volume of production in Estonia, Finland and Latvia. An EIO-LCA model, developed specifically for the Finnish food chain was used to assess the environmental impacts.

In the project area, social, economic and political changes have influenced the eating habits during the past decades. These changes are especially seen in the consumption of meat, which has increased in Estonia, Finland and Latvia in the last 10 years. Consumption of poultry and pork has increased, whereas consumption of beef has been slightly decreasing. Consumption changes reflect to production. The greatest growth has taken place in poultry production, which has increased significantly in each country during 1997–2007. Also the production of pork has increased in each country, especially in Estonia and Finland, where the increase was 45 % and 19 %, respectively.

The eutrophication intensity varies among different foodstuffs: beef has the highest eutrophication intensity of all meats, about three times higher than that of pork, and seven times that of poultry. The eutrophication intensity of milk is relatively low. Nevertheless, the values associated with beef and milk are partly bound together, since a significant share of beef comes from milking cows. The eutrophication impacts of plants also vary among species: grain has the highest intensity of the plant-based raw materials.

The modelling shows that eutrophication can be reduced by about 7 % by changing the food consumption habits in Finland towards a recommended direction, and currently private food consumption is not far from being in accord with recommendations. The major shift, about 7 % units from protein to carbohydrates, was reached in the scenario by applying a reduction to all protein foods, and an increment to all carbohydrate foods. This is because the foods containing animal proteins have greater eutrophication potential than carbohydrate foods, and shifting from the use of protein foods to carbohydrate foods should influence the state of eutrophication. In countries with nutrient-extensive agriculture, like Estonia and Latvia, the agricultural sector needs to develop without increasing nutrient surpluses.


Vorne, V., Patrikainen, L., Virtanen, Y., Jäälinoja, M., Aho, H., Kovero, M., Hyvärinen, H., Vieraankivi, M.-L., Kurppa, S., Mattila, T., Porvari, P., Munne, P., Verta, M., Lang, L., Pai, K., Aan, A., Laumets, L., Runnel, V., Puura, T., Līce, E., Brizga, J., Ernšteins, R. and Kuršinska, S. The Baltic environment, food and health: from habits to awareness.Feasibility study. MTT Report series 34, 2011. Available at

*‘The Baltic environment, food and health: from habits to awareness – FOODWEB’. The project is a part of Central Baltic IVA Programme 2007-2013. Finland, Estonia and Latvia take part in the Foodweb-project.

This poster reflects the authors views. The Managing Authority cannot be held liable for the information published by the project partners.

LCA Food 2012