The Carbon Footprint of Pig Production

Updated: Feb 23

Today's food supply chain accounts for ~26% of the total emission of green-house gases globally. Beef is by far the greatest individual contributor with 60kg of CO2-equivalents per kg of food product, at the other end of the scale are fruit and nuts with less than 1kg per kg of food product.


Pig production is better than beef, but there is still room for improvement

Pig production ranks in between two at 7kg, as the non-ruminant livestock and generates less methane. One issue with using CO2-equivalents is the aggregation method particularly when it comes to methane. Methane has a much shorter atmospheric life time than CO2, which can hang around for centuries, but it's also much more potent for that short duration. However, that does not really change the outcome from a pig production perspective: yes, it's more efficient than beef production, but it's less efficient than fruit andvegetables.


Graphics are from Our World In Data


Great variation within the segment

The numbers shown are averages across the globe. There is a significant difference between the most efficient and the least efficient producers: 10% of all producers are 40% below the mean and 10% of all producers are at least 80% above the mean!


Animal feed and farm-related processes are by far the biggest contributors, accounting for 64% of the emitted greenhouse gases. Perhaps surprisingly, transportation only accounts for 4%, whereas the public perception is that this matters a great deal. However, due to the scale doring the later stages of the food supply chain, this can be quite efficient when we look at it from a unit basis.


Data source is Our World In Data


What can you do?

The first step in any improvement programme is to establish a base line, and then identify the greatest opportunities and start to address these. As shown above, optimising processes that the individual farmer can control, can actually have an impact on the carbon footprint. It is far less about where the product is sold and much more about how it is produced.


IQinAbox has solutions to help you throughout the process and our dashboards allow you to identify herds that are not performing as they should, forecast when it is time to order or even swap feeds...and which perform best at which stage - according to the specific context of the individual farm.

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