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Identifying Sustainability Issues for Soymeal and Beef Production Chains


The expansion of livestock production throughout the world has led to increased demand for high protein animal feed. This expansion has created economic benefits for livestock farmers and other actors in the chain, but also resulted in environmental and social side effects. This study aims to identify a set of sustainability issues that cover the environmental, economic and social dimensions of soymeal and beef production chains. The method applied combines the results of multiple studies, including a literature review and stakeholder surveys. Stakeholder surveys were conducted for three different interest groups (business, consumers, and other stakeholders) and two geographical regions (Latin America and the European Union). Our results reveal that the selection of issues in most sustainability assessment studies is a relatively arbitrary decision, while the literature also states that identifying issues is an important step in a sustainability assessment. Defining sustainability issues from a whole chain perspective is important, as issues of sustainability emerge at various stages along the production chain, and are found to vary across stakeholders’ interests. Business stakeholders, for example, perceived economic issues to be more important, whereas the majority of consumer stakeholders and other stakeholders perceived social and environmental issues, respectively, to be more important. Different education levels, knowledge, and living patterns in various geographical regions can affect the stakeholders’ perceptions. The combination of a heterogeneous group of stakeholders and the consideration of multiple chain stages constitutes a useful approach to identify sustainability issues along food chains.

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  1. 1.

    Knowledge-based Sustainable vAlue-added food chains: innovative tooLs for monitoring ethical, environmental and Socio-economic impActs and implementing EU-Latin America shared strategies.

  2. 2.

    Local economy in this study refers to local value added along the chain.

  3. 3.

    These two studies were conducted for the UK chain level and not the international chain level.


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This research is part of the SALSA project that has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007–2013) under grant agreement number 265927. Furthermore, we would like to thank all the respondents of the surveys. Critical comments and suggestions in statistic part of paper by Simon N’cho (PhD candidate in Business Economics group, Wageningen university) were greatly appreciated.

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Correspondence to Farahnaz Pashaei Kamali.

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See Table 6.

Table 6 Description of issues

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Pashaei Kamali, F., Meuwissen, M.P.M., De Boer, I.J.M. et al. Identifying Sustainability Issues for Soymeal and Beef Production Chains. J Agric Environ Ethics 27, 949–965 (2014).

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  • Sustainability
  • Environmental
  • Economic
  • Social
  • Stakeholders