Food-Energy Integration in Primary Production and Food Processing Results in a More Equal Distribution of Economic Value Across Regional Food Systems: Nordic Case Study from Circular Perspective

Kari Koppelmäki*, Maartje Hendriks, Juha Helenius, Susanna Kujala, Rogier P.O. Schulte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Circular food systems have been proposed as an alternative to the current dominant linear food chain structures. Biomass production for food and energy and nutrient recycling have been defined as the most important elements of circular food systems. Thus far, the potential role of food processing as a large biomass and energy user has gained little attention in studies of the circular bioeconomy. In this study, we explore how compatible bioenergy production is with the energy consumption of regional food processing and how such integrated systems may impact on the economic value created in regional food systems. We applied the nested circularity framework to three contrasting regions to study from an economic perspective the economic value created in primary production, food processing, and bioenergy production. In addition to this, we also calculated the value of external nutrient and energy inputs used in food production. Our results showed how energy production from agricultural biomasses can provide enough energy for food processing on a regional scale, but that this would require integrating food processing with primary production. As a result of this integration, the economic value created in food processing decreased substantially in two of the case study regions, but in contrast, the value increased in the third case study region. We suggest that regionalized food processing is an integral element of circular food systems, as it plays an important role in closing local and regional cycles of nutrients, food, and energy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1385-1403
JournalCircular Economy and Sustainability
Volume3
Issue number3
Early online date13 Dec 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Keywords

  • Circularity
  • Food system structure
  • Gross value added
  • Local food systems

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