Life cycle assessment of a popular deli meat

A major food producer requested PRé to do a life cycle assessment of a popular deli meat to educate staff, establish a baseline, and gain insight. The resulting model quantifies carbon, energy and water impacts of the deli meat.


A major food producer wanted to conduct a life cycle assessment (LCA) for a popular deli meat to educate staff, establish a baseline for comparison to similar products, and gain insight into its supply chain.


PRé conducted a workshop with the staff of our client to familiarize key personnel with LCA and to establish the study’s primary objectives. Following this workshop, PRé worked with the employees to collect primary data from its owned and controlled operations and to verify assumptions about the stages of the value chain that are not controlled by the food producer. The resulting model was used to quantify the carbon, energy and water impacts of the deli meat as well as to track waste creation.

PRé found that the manufacturing phase, which includes cooking, is primarily responsible for the impacts associated with the production of this deli meat product. The results presented here (modified for confidentiality) also indicate that a sizable portion of impacts come from the retail stage, an area outside of our client’s control but potentially a venue for future collaborative efforts.

In addition to energy demand, carbon emissions, water consumption, and waste creation were also analyzed. While larger quantities of water consumption during manufacturing were expected, LCA results show that the fabrication of the intermediate packaging also consumes a significant amount of water, providing another possibility for reduction of impacts associated with this deli meat product.


Working with PRé, this major food producer discovered the following project-driven benefits:

  • Creation of a benchmark for comparison to other deli meat products
  • Visibility into the relative impacts of the full life cycle of its meat product
  • Illumination of the importance of the manufacturing stage for this and other similar product types
  • Provision of a platform to approach upstream stakeholders about sustainability issues at the farm and feed supply chain stages
  • The potential for alignment of sustainability objectives throughout locations, teams, and business units.

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