Life-Cycle-oriented Origin analysis (LCOA)
LCOA enables the calculation of the origin of products along the supply chain. At this time the method is tested on and recommended for food products, but in principle can be applied to other types of products.


Information concerning the origin of food products: confusing variety in advertising and labelling
Not least because regional products receive a high degree of acceptance, producers and supermarket chains offer local/regional food products and advertise them. Local/regional advertising however may confuse consumers if only the location of the processing undertaking is indicated but not the origin of raw materials and ingredients. An inspection of local/regional advertising of supermarket chains revealed at 90 % supposedly local/regional products an unknown origin of raw materials [1]. The variety of regional seals results in different criteria and consequently in a variable proportion of the local/regional share in the final product. This fact additionally does not contribute to transparent consumer information.

Life-Cycle-oriented Origin analysis: an alternative
Consumer surveys in the EU show, that information about origin is relevant for 70 % of the consumers,[2],[3]. This significant information requirement together with an obvious vagueness and complexity of indications of origin motivated us to develop an impartial method for the calculation of the origin of food products. Together with partners the Bureau for Chemical Engineering TB-Klade created the Life-Cycle-oriented Origin analysis respectively LCOA. Mandatory specification was a complete gathering of the product origin from the raw materials to the pre-packaged product. Thereby the procedure of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method functioned as a substantial reference and blueprint. Life Cycle Assessment captures the life cycle of a product to estimate potential environmental impacts. For this purpose the method lays down normative requirements for the specification of the product, system boundaries and the quality of the used data. LCOA adopts these requirements but at the same time amends the objective. This means that parts of the ISO standards 14025, 14040 and 14044 – these international standards form the basis for the compilation of LCAs and type III environmental declarations – are integrated into the Life-Cycle-oriented Origin analysis and complemented by the module ‘origin analysis’ for the calculation of the origin. Details of the method and calculation examples can be found in „Origin of products”.

Application opportunities
By adopting requirements of the LCA and complementing them with an origin analysis, the Life-Cycle-oriented Origin analysis offers advantages in comparison to established systems of origin labelling and local/regional seals. The LCOA

  • is in principle applicable on all types of products,
  • captures the overall supply chain from the raw materials to the pre-packaged product and
  • calculates the local/regional, the supra-regional and unknown share of origin.

The LCOA is flexible in respect to

  • the choice of the investigated and finally disclosed geographical areas and
  • offers the opportunity to calculate on the basis of mass and/or prices (costs).

Thereby the contribution of the product to regional value creation can be additionally calculated.

An finally the LCOA enables comparisons, either

  • between the origin of products associated to the same product category or
  • between the true (i.e. calculated) origin of a product and the origin-expectations of consumers toward one and the same product.

[2] BEUC consumer survey (January 2013) Where does my food come from? Origin labelling on food
[3] Special Eurobarometer 389 (March 2012) Europeans attitudes towards food security, food quality and the countryside