FPE-31806 Sustainability in Food Chains


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Group work11
Course coordinator(s)M van Berkum
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. ir. A van der Padt
dr. ir. MA Kabel
dr. R Akkerman
dr. JK Keppler
Examiner(s)prof. dr. ir. A van der Padt
dr. R Akkerman

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

FPE-10808 or ORL-20306; FPE-20306

Continuation courses:

FPE-30806, ORL-31306


During this course you will analyse and develop agri-food production chains considering their economic, social and environmental impact. Focus will be on the application of quantitative tools for evaluation of sustainability performance. Traditionally, agro-food production chains are aimed at isolation of a single ingredient, in future, raw materials will be 'refined' into as many valuable fractions as possible. In this course you will learn how to combine processing steps to use less energy and water and to aim at multi-product recovery. Additionally, you will learn about the application of enzymes for enhanced use of agricultural resources. Important is the analysis of efficiency and identification of locations of inefficiency in food production chains. This will be done on the basis of mass flow analysis, Sankey diagrams, and embodied values of energy and water. In addition you will carry out life cycle analysis (LCA) on food production chains. Using LCA techniques you avoid focusing on a single environmental impact, such as global warming. Instead, you consider complex interrelations with other aspects of sustainability, such as eutrophication, animal welfare, land use or food security. Where current food production is carried out at large central plants, production in the future may be better distributed over the production chain. Choices discussed will be concerned with different sustainable distribution modes. Finally, design principles (e.g. cradle-to-cradle) on sustainability will be explained and applied. The course will conclude with a design task on a novel sustainable agro- food product and its chain.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- explain the effect of various choices on sustainability of the food production chains;
- apply the concepts of sustainable logistics and biorefinery for production of foods and fuels;
- apply mass flow analysis and quantitative performance indicators (such as embodied energy values) for analysis and design of complex agro-food chains and visualise them using Sankey diagrams;
- apply LCA techniques to evaluate complete food production chains on its sustainability taking into account multiple sustainability indicators at once;
- evaluate new design concepts and their effect on food production chains (e.g. cradle-to-cradle);
- design a novel sustainable agro-food product and its chain.


The course consists of:
- lectures;
- computer tutorials;
- group work: groups of students will design a yoghurt-based product.


Final grading is based on a written exam (75%) with open questions and the group work activities (25%). For both elements a minimum pass mark of 5.0 is required.
The grade for the group work report is valid for 5 years.


A reader is available at the WUR-shop.

Compulsory for: MFTFood TechnologyMScH: Sustainable Food Process Engineering3WD