Food miles is the amount of food energy transferred during the production of a product during its delivery. Food miles, also known as Tward or Sustainability Rating, are a measure of food energy use and environmental impact that is often used in the marketplace. The greater the food energy transfer, or fuel, used during the production of a product, the more efficient it is for the environment and the producer. With so much at stake for consumers, it is no wonder that manufacturers are looking for new ways to reduce their food miles.
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Measuring food miles as well as fuel consumption can help decrease the ecological impact of transportation. Food miles is the space taken up by the transport of food from the point of its creation until it reaches its intended consumer. Food miles are also one way that manufacturers are measuring the environmental impact of their food, including the carbon emissions associated with their food’s travel. By using an E code tracking system to track the transport of food across the country, food manufacturers have been able to monitor and improve their production processes. By monitoring the movement of food through the distribution system, they are able to establish what portion of the food they produce moves through each phase of their supply chain and what portion remains at the processing facility.
When food miles and fuel consumption become intertwined, companies are compelled to implement new methods for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For example, food companies must develop new methods for shipping fresh fruits and vegetables and to implement new energy efficiency standards for refrigeration. At the same time, many grocery stores are exploring opportunities to grow locally grown products, particularly for their health and environmental customers. In this scenario, consumers can expect to pay less for more sustainable and organic products as grocery stores seek to expand their supply of green products and consumers will benefit by paying less for food that has traveled longer and in more hazardous ways.