Sustainable utilisation and mitigation of environmental impacts associated with food production have become important issues in many key markets for seafood products from Iceland.
Demands for stock sustainability have been met with third party certifications, such as MSC and IRF. But information on the total environmental impacts throughout the value chains of Icelandic seafood products and comparison with other competing products have been lacking.
To address this, a number of companies engaged in catching-, processing-, distribution- and marketing of fresh Icelandic cod loins sold UK and Switzerland decided to carry out a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of their products. The results of the LCA reveal that the carbon footprint of Icelandic cod loins are relatively modest in comparison with other competing seafood products and much lower than from meat products.
The study included cod loins from four processors, caught by seven different fishing vessels. The LCA covered the whole value chain, from catch to retail stores in the UK and Switzerland. The results were then compared to similar studies done on competing food products.
There is a considerable difference in carbon footprints in the catching phase, which is explained by different vessel size, fishing gear, quota possession, operational focus and other factors. The average carbon footprint calculated in the study through the catching and processing phase is 0.8 Kg CO2 equivalent / Kg cod loins. Transportation from either UK or Switzerland by sea freight and truck adds relatively small amounts of CO2, but transporting them by air freight can triple the carbon footprint, as can be seen in the following figure.
Comparing these results to similar studies done on competing products shows that carbon footprint of fresh Icelandic cod loins that are transported by air to the UK are similar to Norwegian cod or salmon fillets that have been transported by truck to Paris. If the Icelandic cod loins are however transported by sea freight to the UK, they will have less than half the footprint of the Norwegian cod loins sold in Paris.
Seafood products have in general much smaller carbon footprint than other animal protein sources and comparing the Icelandic cod loins to beef, lamb, pork or poultry products clearly shows the superiority of the cod when it comes to CO2 emissions, as can be seen in the following figure.
The full results from the LCA study have been published in a report and a summary has been published in a brochure, which can be viewed at the web-page of Matís and the AVS fund.
The project partners would like to thank the AVS fund for supporting the project and they want to emphasise the importance of the fund for R&D in the Icelandic marine sector.
For additional information please contact Jónas R. Viðarsson at Matís.