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Food Footprint

The food ecological footprint includes food consumed by South West residents, whether in the home or out, in 2001. Post-consumer food waste was not included (to avoid double counting). The ecological footprint for food consumed by the South West residents in 2001, was 8 million gha (1.63 gha per person). It accounted for 29% of a South West resident's total ecological footprint. A breakdown of the food ecological footprint, by food type, is shown in Table 7. Animal-based food products were responsible for 77% of the food footprint (see Figure 4), of which meat was the biggest contributor, at 35% of the total food footprint and fish the second biggest, at 31%. Plant-based food contributed 23% of the total food ecological footprint.

Table 7
Food ecological footprint of a South West resident, by type, in 2001
 
Food type Per person consumption (kg) Per person ecological footprint (gha) % of total food ecological footprint
Total food 698 1.63 100%
of which  
Animal-based 235 1.25 77%
of which  
Milk & cream 117 0.14 9%
Cheese 7 0.001 <1%
Meat 57 0.57 35%
Fish 10 0.50 31%
Eggs 9 0.02 1%
Butter 3 <0.01 <1%
Other animal-based food*** 32 0.03 2%
 
Plant-based 463 0.37 23%
of which  
Vegetable Fats 7 0.02 1%
Sugar & preserves 8 0.02 1%
Potatoes 53 0.02 1%
Other vegetables* 67 0.01 1%
Fruit 76 0.02 1%
Bread & other cereals** 91 0.13 8%
Beverages 25 0.10 6%
Soft drinks 64 0.02 1%
Confectionery 7 <0.01 <1%
Alcoholic beverages 57 0.04 2%
Other plant-based food*** 8 <0.01 <1%
* Other vegetables include all fresh, green or processed vegetables such as lettuce, sprouts or carrots, but exclude potatoes.
** Other cereals include breakfast cereals, snacks (for example popadums), cakes and flour.
*** Other food includes for example soups, salad dressings and sauces.
Note: Totals may differ due to rounding.
Source: DEFRA 2002 & 2003a and ONS, 2003

The ecological footprint per unit of food varies considerably between food types. Although South West residents consumed almost twice as much plant-based food as animal-based food, the animal-based footprint is more than three times the plant-based footprint. Far more resources are consumed to produce a kilogram of beef than a kilogram of wheat. Figure 4 illustrates these 'conversion inefficiencies' in the food chain.

Figure 4
Food ecological footprint of South West residents, compared with tonnages consumed, in 2001

fig 4