Food and beverages


The effect of our nutrition on the environment has increasingly become a matter of public interest in recent years. Food and beverages are a key area of ifeu’s work, so the institute has previously drawn up a large number of life cycle assessments and greenhouse gas / energy balance sheets for a wide range of foodstuffs, beverages, food ingredients, and packaging.

Our studies and our involvement in committees and participation in specialist discussions provide support for decision-makers in politics, business and associations, with the aim of creating a more environmentally friendly and sustainable food industry. For instance, we can make recommendations to optimise production or develop concepts to prevent food waste. We assist companies and associations with environmental assessments and eco-labelling, and we are involved in harmonisation initiatives at national and international level.

Our Experience

We investigate the environmental impact of different production methods and consumption patterns, e.g. regional foods vs. imported goods, ecological vs. conventional production, seasonal production vs. heated cultivation, fresh goods vs. frozen products, or meat vs. meat substitutes. We also draw up life cycle assessments for foodstuffs and other bio-based products, both in the form of detailed ISO-compliant balance sheets and overview balance sheets.

We supplement our analysis of global and product-related environmental effects in the life cycle assessment with analyses of local, site-related environmental effects. We are also involved in the development of evaluation methods for these environmental effects. We compose and issue a range of publications, websites, user-oriented software (e.g. the CO2 calculator) and prepare information for specific target groups, both within our industry and for the general public. We are happy to share our knowledge and extensive experience with multipliers and interested consumers.

This leaflet  contains a brief profile of the primary research area of food.

Our key research topics


Our consumption of food has a significant impact on the environment. Food-related product systems differ considerably in terms of the strain they place on the environment. Of course agricultural production is a key factor, but other downstream aspects such as processing, packaging, distribution, preparation and waste can have a major influence on the environmental burden. ifeu has previously issued life cycle assessments and greenhouse gas / energy balance sheets for a wide range of foods.



Beverages play a major role in satisfying our daily fluid intake requirements, and are therefore an indispensable part of our diet. ifeu has previously drawn up life cycle assessments and greenhouse gas / energy balance sheets for a wide range of beverages, and also provides a consultancy service for national and international drinks manufacturers in relation to the production of corporate climate balance sheets and eco-efficiency analyses.


Cane sugar isolated on white background

Foodstuff ingredients

Foodstuff ingredients include food additives as defined in the EU additives regulation, and other substances which are usually added to foodstuffs. However, because they are often the end product of comparatively long and complex process chains, they sometimes have a surprisingly high impact on the environment. ifeu investigates this impact by means of a life cycle assessment.


ifeu has undertaken multiple projects involving a scientific approach to the environmental effects of packaging for food and drinks made from a diverse range of materials (glass, plastic, metal and regrowable resources).


Palm oil

Margarine, sweets, ready meals – many foods we eat every day contain palm oil. The mass cultivation of the oil palm and the consequences for primeval forests and their inhabitants pose new challenges for the importing western industrial nations: how can palm oil be cultivated in an ecologically and socially compatible way? ifeu has been getting to the bottom of this question for around 10 years.


Dr. Guido Reinhardt

PhD; Mathematician, Chemist, Biologist
Phone: +49 (0)6221 4767 31

Andreas Detzel

Dipl. Biologe (graduate in biology)

Phone: +49 (0)6221 4767 0