Agroscope, Institute for Sustainability Sciences ISS, Switzerland

Life-cycle assessment of Swiss agricultural products compared with imports

In light of the growing dynamics of the trade in agricultural products, the environmental competitiveness of Swiss foods vis-à-vis imports is gaining in importance. Agroscope studied the environmental impacts of wheat bread, feed barley, table potatoes, cheese and beef from both Switzerland and major importing countries. Cheese and potatoes from Switzerland were rated as similar to, or more favourable than, imports. In the case of cheese, good grass growth and low use of concentrates in milk production played a role in this; with table potatoes, it was the shorter transport distances. The remaining Swiss products performed inconsistently. Within Switzerland, the production systems differed greatly in terms of their environmental impacts. Our results lead to the conclusion that mere adherence to the provisions of the Proof of Ecological Performance is no guarantee of more environmentally favourable production than that of importing countries. Measures should therefore be differentiated and supplemented by quantitative impact targets in order to achieve Swiss quality leadership in the environmental sphere.

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