Life-Cycle-oriented Origin analysis


Knowledge of product origin is an important factor in purchasing decisions and consumers demand relevant information. However, at the moment, and especially for food products, such information is often fragmentary or incomplete and thus sometimes more confusing than clarifying. Analysis reveals that a method for calculating and communicating origin along the overall life cycle of a product is clearly lacking. The aim of the present paper is to present a method for assessing and providing information on product origin, taking food products as an example. The method proposed here is termed “Life-Cycle- oriented Origin analysis” (or in short LCOA). Life-Cycle-oriented Origin analysis is based on the life cycle assessment (LCA) approach, but it also incorporates information relating to the origin/location of raw materials, intermediary products, and processing. The present article outlines how the value of the referenced locations is assessed and how this may be used to depict the overall origin of a product. As consumers are particularly critical concerning questions of food origin, a pilot study on pre-packaged food is used here to illustrate how the concept of LCOA may be applied in practice. In principle, how- ever, the concept may be applied to all types of consumer products. We suggest that Life-Cycle-oriented Origin analysis can be fruitfully employed in enhancing market communication and consumer research, and that it may also prove useful in matters concerning product (re-)design and optimization. Adoption of LCOA is likely to lead to improved supply chain communication for producers, and consumers may benefit by being able to assess, at a glance, the overall origin of a product.