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Implementing LCA early in food innovation processes: Study on spirulina-based food products

Abstract : Food transformation companies could employ LCA upstream of product development to eco-design their new products, in order to limit the impact of new food products on the environment. But the knowledge required when using LCA on food products under development is imperfect. This study aims to overcome the difficulties of assessing the environmental impacts of imprecise food pre-concepts early on in innovation process, by developing a three-step modular LCA method: (1) creation of scenarios for each pre-concept within four modules: "ingredients," "packaging," "transportation," and "energy + water"; (2) transversal analyses of the module scenarios and the modules themselves to estimate the pre-concepts' environmental impacts, which were then conveyed by single scores; and (3) dissemination of the results to stakeholders. The method was applied to spirulina-based food pre-concepts. Results showed that the modular approach identified hotspots relevant to the company. The ingredients module contributed the most to the impacts but was the most variable and uncertain module. The single scores facilitated decision-making for stakeholders unfamiliar with LCA. But some expertise was required to inform the company on the origin of impacts and the causes of variations. The method served as an informational tool that led the food company to question some of its prevailing assumptions. This study concludes that it is possible to perform LCA on imprecise pre-concepts using a simplified modular framework. Research must continue to include agri-food data in LCA databases and to simplify the internalization of LCA expertise in agri-food businesses.
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Submitted on : Monday, August 22, 2022 - 12:29:36 PM
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Chloé Thomas, Cécile Gremy-Gros, Aurélie Perrin, Ronan Symoneaux, Isabelle Maître. Implementing LCA early in food innovation processes: Study on spirulina-based food products. Journal of Cleaner Production, Elsevier, 2020, 268, ⟨10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.121793⟩. ⟨hal-02615773⟩

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