Tomato journeys from farm to fruit shop
Popular calls to buy products with fewer embodied greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions belie the complexity involved in providing accurate information necessary for such consumer decisions to be effective. This study follows greenhouse-grown tomatoes from Australian farms to fruit shops in Sydney, Australia and investigates practicalities of accounting for GHG emissions in this fresh food chain. Data came from semi-structured interviews with farmers, wholesalers who operate at the (wholesale) Sydney Markets and retailers. GHG emissions were estimated using quantitative methodologies including Australian National Greenhouse Account Factors. A qualitative analysis of stakeholder views and knowledge was also conducted. Conclusions include that, per unit of tomatoes, on-farm GHG emissions appear far greater than those from fuel used for transport to Sydney Markets, and from wholesale or retail activities. Food mile or more comprehensive carbon labelling would probably not be practical for this supply chain. Factors likely to affect potential change among higher emitting participants are costs and availability of lower GHG-emitting practices. Mixed-method studies help identify parts of a chain to target emission reduction efforts.
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