An Italian tomato “Cuore di Bue” case study: challenges and benefits using subcategory assessment method for social life cycle assessment

  • Luigia Petti
  • Paola Karina Sanchez Ramirez
  • Marzia Traverso
  • Cassia Maria Lie Ugaya



The main purpose of this study is to present an implementation of the subcategory assessment method (SAM) to the life cycle of an Italian variety of tomato called “Cuore di Bue” produced by an Italian cooperative. The case study was used to use the methodology proposed in compliance with the guidelines of social life cycle assessment (S-LCA) in order to highlight issues for the improvement of SAM. A summary of strengths and weaknesses of the methodology as well as the social performance of the considered Italian tomato is an important result of this case study.


The methodology used is based on SAM. The UNEP/SETAC guidelines of S-LCA and the complementary methodological sheets were used as main references to carry out SAM, and it was used to assess the social performances of Cuore di Bue. The focus was on the assessment of the following three out of five stakeholder groups presented in the guidelines: workers, local community and consumers. Specific questionnaires have been developed to collect the inventory data related to each stakeholder group and along the product life cycle.

Results and discussion

SAM of Cuore di Bue showed a range of values, between 2 and 3 (C-B) for consumer stakeholder group and mainly 3 (B) for the local community and worker stakeholders. Because the best performance (A) is related to a numerical value of 4, better performances were not identified, owing to no propagation of actions in the value chain. The collective bargaining, transparency, feedback mechanism and privacy are the subcategories with the worst performance, but at the same time with more potential for improvements.


The implementation of SAM on Cuore di Bue allowed us to demonstrate how SAM transforms qualitative data into semi-quantitative information through a score scale that can help a decision maker achieve a product overview. SAM has been implemented on Cuore di Bue; the product assessment, the strengths and weaknesses of the methodology are identified and discussed as well. It has been possible to present the best and worst performances in product life cycle, by identifying the phase or the subcategories with good or bad performance. However, in this case study, as the same company owns most of the product life cycle taken into account, the majority of social performances are identical, and this may represent a limit of the methodology or that more organisations along the life cycle must be taken into account (for example, energy, distribution).


Subcategory assessment method Social life cycle assessment Social impact assessment Stakeholders Characterisation model Case study 

Supplementary material

11367_2016_1175_MOESM1_ESM.docx (53 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 53 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economic Studies (DEc)“Gabriele d’Annunzio” University PescaraPescaraItaly
  2. 2.Erzgiesserei StrasseMunichGermany
  3. 3.Graduate School of Mechanical Engineering and Materials (PPGEM)Federal University of TechnologyRebouças CuritibaBrazil

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