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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Environmental Impact Assessment of Organic Wheat Cracker Value Chains with and without Nettle Powder as a Natural Additive: A Case of Sweden

Bosona, Techane

Abstract

Due to the growing global population and consequent increased demand for food, the global production of cereal crops has increased. Wheat is one of the most important food crops in the world, as its products, e.g., bread and crackers, have served as important sources of nutrition for many years. However, the environmental impacts of wheat-derived food products are not frequently explored. This study presents an environmental impact assessment of organic wheat crackers within the context of Swedish winter wheat production using both primary and literature-based data. A cradle-to-consumer gate life cycle analysis (LCA) approach using the functional unit (FU) of 1 kg of crackers was applied while considering two cracker value chains: (i) without additives and (ii) using nettle powder as a natural additive. Four environmental impact categories-cumulative energy demand (CED), climate change impact (GWP), acidification, and eutrophication-were explored, with a particular focus on CED and GWP. The analysis results indicated that the total CED values were about 13 MJ/FU and 14 MJ/FU for crackers without and with the additive, respectively. Similarly, the total GWP values were 379 g CO2 eq/FU and 464 g CO2 eq/FU, respectively. The post-harvest processing and handling stage was an environmental hot spot in both cases. The introduction of the nettle additive has increased the quantified values of all four of the investigated impact categories. These insights will enable food processors and policy makers to communicate the environmental impacts and make informed decisions to improve the sustainability of wheat crackers. This paper contributes to a database of the environmental impacts of wheat products, specifically LCA data of organic wheat crackers and the LCA method for further LCA studies of snacks and other wheat products with plant-based functional additives.

Keywords

organic wheat; cracker value chain; life cycle analysis; nettle powder; natural additive

Published in

Sustainability
2024, Volume: 16, number: 7, article number: 3092Publisher: MDPI

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences

    Publication identifier

    DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/su16073092

    Permanent link to this page (URI)

    https://res.slu.se/id/publ/129357