The validity of food miles as an indicator of sustainable development - final report

Over the last fifty years, there has been a large increase in the distance food travels from the farm to the consumer, known as "food miles". DEFRA, UK commissioned a study to assess whether a practical and reliable indicator based on food miles can be developed, and whether this would be a valid indicator of progress towards the objectives of the government's sustainable farming and food strategy and the proposed food industry sustainablity strategy. A food miles dataset was compiled for 1992, 1997 and 2002. It was found that a single indicator based on total food kilometres is an inadequate indicator of sustainability. Data is available to provide and update a meaningful set of indicators on an annual basis. Food transport accounted for 25% of all heavy goods vehicle kilometres in the UK, producing 19 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. Air freight had the highest carbon dioxide emissions per tonne and is the fastest growing mode. The direct environmental, social and economic costs of food transport are over £9 billion each year, and are dominated by congestion. Policy implications and further research requirements are discussed.

  • Authors:
    • Smith, A
    • WATKISS, P
    • TWEDDLE, G
    • McKinnon, A
    • Browne, M
    • HUNT, A
    • NASH, C
    • CROSS, S
  • Publication Date: 2005-7


  • English

Media Info

  • Pagination: 103p
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01013138
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Transport Research Laboratory
  • Files: ITRD
  • Created Date: Dec 22 2005 8:30AM