Food systems are increasingly challenged to meet growing demand for specialty crops due to the effects of climate change and increased competition for resources. Here, we apply an integrated methodology that includes climate, crop, economic and life cycle assessment models to US potato and tomato supply chains. We find that supply chains for two popular processed products in the United States, French fries and pasta sauce, will be remarkably resilient, through planting adaptation strategies that avoid higher temperatures. Land and water footprints will decline over time due to higher yields, and greenhouse gas emissions can be mitigated by waste reduction and process modification. Our integrated methodology can be applied to other crops, health-based consumer scenarios (fresh versus processed) and geographies, thereby informing decision-making throughout supply chains. Employing such methods will be essential as food systems are forced to adapt and transform to become carbon neutral due to the imperatives of climate change.
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Funding was supplied by USDA NIFA award no. 2017-68002-26789. T.B.S. and K.W. received additional support from the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets. We acknowledge the helpful input received from the project’s advisory committee, which includes S. Alvarez, H. Giclas, K. Johnson, K. Morgan, J. McFerran, S. Mostoja, W. Reinhardt-Kapsak, S. Sambhav, L. Scandurra, D. Sonke, V. Verlage and K. Walsh.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information Nature Food thanks Pauline Scheelbeek, Rachel Schattman, Ali Mohammadi, Jing Wang and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
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The pie charts (a potatoes, b tomatoes) show the relative amounts of different foods sourced from potatoes and tomatoes in the United States. The bar charts show the relative environmental footprints (c greenhouse gas emissions, d land use, e water use) of potatoes and tomatoes at harvest, using three alternative life cycle assessment (LCA) functional units: mass, caloric content, and nutrient density.
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Gustafson, D., Asseng, S., Kruse, J. et al. Supply chains for processed potato and tomato products in the United States will have enhanced resilience with planting adaptation strategies. Nat Food 2, 862–872 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-021-00383-w
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