Spending on food and non-alcoholic beverages in 2003 resulted in almost 46,000 kilotonnes of greenhouse gases, according to the first comprehensive national estimate of food-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Canada. This was equivalent to 6.4% of total national GHG emissions that year.
This national estimate was the result of integrating the most recent detailed data on the structure of the economy with data on energy use and GHG emissions.
Almost one-quarter (23%) of these food-related GHG emissions was attributable to the production of fresh and frozen meat, while fish products contributed 2%. Beef alone accounted for 15% of all GHG emissions resulting from household spending on food in 2003.
Looking at the amount of energy required to produce food shows another dimension of the environmental impact of the food system. More energy was used in the production of prepared foods than any of the other food groups, reflecting the energy inputs required for processing these foods. Prepared foods accounted for 19% of food-related energy use, while dairy and eggs accounted for 18%, and fresh and frozen meat accounted for 14%.