Natural Resource Usage of Households, with Special Regard to Food Consumption

Dombi, Mihály – Karcagi-Kováts, Andrea – Bauerné Gáthy, Andrea – Kuti, István

Keywords: material flows, natural resources, biomass, food industry, household diary

The aim of the study is to describe the input metabolic profile of the examined households, as well as to present the differences between distinct household types. Interactions between final food consumption and its natural resource basis are also shown. The biomass consumption of different household types is 365-432 kg/cap/year, based on a two week diary period recorded in 34 households. However, this direct biomass use is one-fifth of the whole Hungarian per capita biomass consumption. The material requirement of the food consumption is 5.26-6.25 kg/kg, regarding the primary production of the biomass, and 5.88-7.14 kg/kg regarding all the natural resources – including energy. Food consumption thus uses 14-17 per cent of natural resources (referred to the mass of resources) in the examined households; and the most relevant impacts on resources are connected with the primary biomass production (87%) and the products of the chemical industry (9.6%). The food consumption and its impact on the natural resources depend on the socio-economic and geographic conditions of the households. Based on the diaries, the smaller household size as well as the higher income of the household members causes higher material requirements. Higher food consumption leads to at least five times higher biomass requirement together with its ecological impacts. It highlights again the importance of environmentally conscious consumption, especially the avoidance of wasting food. The highest need for natural resources is observable in animal husbandry and grain production, based on earlier studies and technological estimations. The least material-effective stages of food production are the chemical industry and the food processing activity.