27 July 2007
News from Lincoln University
New `food miles´ report shows NZ dairying still more efficient than UK, greenhouse gases included
The "food miles" efficiency of the New Zealand dairy industry in producing and delivering products for the British
market has received new confirmation from a Lincoln University report released today. (27 July)
The report shows that in the production of New Zealand dairy product the generation of greenhouse gases - carbon
dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, all implicated in global climate change - is less than in the British dairy system.
The Lincoln study´s central finding is that the UK produces 35 percent more emissions per kilogram of milk solid than
New Zealand and 31 percent more emissions per hectare than New Zealand - even including transportation from New Zealand
to Britain and the carbon dioxide generated in that process.
The 25-page report, authored by Professor Caroline Saunders, Director of Lincoln University´s Agribusiness and Economics
Research Unit, and Andrew Barber of The Agribusiness Group, is titled Comparative Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions of
New Zealand´s and the UK´s Dairy Industry.
It follows the first Food Miles report by Saunders, Barber and research assistant Greg Taylor, published in July last
That report, which drew considerable critical response from UK trade and environmental interests, examined energy use
and carbon dioxide emissions associated with the production of four products - milk solids, lamb, apples and onions.
In a landmark conclusion it found that there was greater energy efficiency in New Zealand for the production of dairy
product, lamb and apples, and an advantage in relation to onions if storage costs for the UK product were included in
This latest report focuses exclusively on the dairy sector and adds in greenhouse gas emissions.
The methane emissions originate from enteric fermentation in dairy cows and cattle and from manure management. The
nitrous oxide emissions are a combination of direct and indirect emissions from synthetic fertiliser and animal waste.
The earlier report, which restricted the analysis to energy use and carbon dioxide emissions, showed that New Zealand
was even more efficient for dairy production than is shown in the new analysis which adds in methane and nitrous oxide.
The new work, however, clearly demonstrates that the efficiency balance remains strongly in favour of New Zealand.
"New Zealand´s efficiency factor in trade cannot be ignored," says Professor Saunders.
"Our report clearly demonstrates the fallacy of using a simplistic concept like `food miles´ as a basis for restrictive
trade and marketing policies.
"It is obvious that production systems and not transport are the major contributor to the differences in greenhouse gas
emissions and energy use."