FPE-50806 Sustainable Production of Foods


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Project learning14
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. MAI Schutyser (maarten.schutyser@wur.nl)
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. ir. RM Boom
prof. dr. ir. H Gruppen
dr. ir. MAI Schutyser
prof. dr. JM Bloemhof
Examiner(s)prof. dr. ir. RM Boom

Language of instruction:



During this course complex agri-food production chains and influence of fundamental choices will be studied. For example, where traditional processing is usually aimed at isolation of a single ingredient, in future, raw materials will be cracked into as many valuable fractions as possible. Processing methods will be discussed that use less energy and water and are specifically aimed at multi-product recovery. Enzymes will be discussed as a route to more extensively use agricultural resources. 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 ingredient origin, processing route, product composition, product volume, packaging, and logistics. Furthermore, influence of new design principles (e.g. cradle-to-cradle) on sustainability will be assessed. Key in this course is the analysis of efficiency and identification of locations of inefficiency in food production chains. This will be on the basis of energy consumption, water consumption, and waste production. Analysis methods that will be used are mass flow analysis, Sankey diagrams, Life Cycle analysis, embodied energy, and virtual water content.

Learning outcomes:

At the end of the course the student is expected to:
- have insight in the effect of various choices on sustainability of the food production chains;
- be able to use mass flow analysis in the chain and visualise flows using Sankey diagrams;
- be able to determine embodied energy and virtual water content for individual food products;
- understand new design concepts and their effect on food production chains (e.g. cradle-to-cradle);
- be able to evaluate food production chains on their sustainability.


The course starts with lectures to provide the required knowledge to evaluate a food production chain on its sustainability. These evaluations will be carried out during computer classes and case works. At the end of the course a project will be carried out in small student groups in cooperation with food industry.


The final grade is based on a written exam (80%) and the result of the project (20%). To pass the course a minimum grade of 6 for the case and the written exam should be obtained.


Hand-outs will be distributed during the course. On-line versions are available on the blackboard site. Recommended for further reading is Sustainability in the food industry Ed. C.J. Baldwin Wiley-Blackwell (2009)