Measuring GHG emissions across the agri-food sector value chain: The development of a bioeconomy input-output model

C. O'Donoghue*, A. Chyzheuskaya*, E. Grealis*, K. Kilcline*, W. Finnegan*, J. Goggins*, S. Hynes*, M. Ryan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Increasing food production to meet rising global demand while minimising negative environmental impacts such as agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is one of the greatest challenges facing the agri-food sector. Sustainable food production relates not only to primary production, but also has wider value chain implications. An input-output (IO) model is a modelling framework which contains information on the flow of goods and services across a value chain at a regional or national economy level. This paper provides a detailed description of the development of a Bioeconomy IO (BIO) model which is disaggregated across the subs-sectors of the agri-food value chain and environmentally extended (EE) to examine environmental outputs, including GHG emissions, We focus on Ireland, where emissions from agriculture comprise 33% of national GHG emissions and where there has been a major expansion and transformation in agriculture supported by national and EU policy. In a substantial Annex to this paper, we describe the modelling assumptions made in developing the BIO model. Breaking up the value chain into components, we find that most value is generated at the processing stage of the value chain, with greater processing value in more sophisticated value chains such as dairy processing. On the other hand, emissions are in general highest in primary production, albeit emissions from purchased animal feed are higher for poultry than for other value chains, given the lower animal based emissions from poultry than from cows or sheep. The level of disaggregation also shows that the sub-sectors are themselves discrete value chains. The analysis highlights that emissions per unit of output are much higher for beef and sheep meat value chains than for pig and poultry. The analysis facilitated by the BIO model also allows for the mapping of emissions along the agri-food value chain using the adapted IO EE approach. Such analysis is valuable in identifying emissions 'hot-spots' along the value chains and analysing potential avenues for emission efficiencies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-85
Number of pages31
JournalInternational Journal on Food System Dynamics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019

JEL classifications

  • q19 - Agriculture: Other
  • c67 - Input-Output Models


  • Agri-Food Value Chain
  • Bio-economic Input-Output
  • Disaggregation methodology
  • LCA


Dive into the research topics of 'Measuring GHG emissions across the agri-food sector value chain: The development of a bioeconomy input-output model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this