Organic quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa L.) production in Peru: Environmental hotspots and food security considerations using Life Cycle Assessment

Eduardo Cancino-Espinoza, Ian Vázquez-Rowe, Isabel Quispe

Producción científica: Contribución a una revistaArtículorevisión exhaustiva

17 Citas (Scopus)


Quinoa is a plant that is cultivated in the Andean highlands across Peru and Bolivia. It is increasingly popular due to its high nutritive value and protein content. In particular, the cultivation of organic quinoa has grown substantially in recent years since it is the most demanded type of quinoa in the foreign market. Nevertheless, despite the interest that quinoa has generated in terms of its nutritional properties, little is known regarding the environmental profile of its production and processing. Therefore, the main objective of this study was to analyze the environmental impacts that are linked to the production and distribution of organic quinoa to the main export destinations through the application of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology. An attributional LCA perspective was conducted including data from approximately 55 ha of land used for quinoa production in the regions of Huancavelica and Ayacucho, in southern-central Peru. IPCC, 2013 and ReCiPe 2008 were the two assessment methods selected to estimate the environmental impact results using the SimaPro 8.3 software. Results, which were calculated for one 500 g package of organic quinoa, showed that GHG emissions are in the upper range of other organic agricultural products. However, when compared to other high protein content food products, especially those from animal origin, considerably low environmental impacts are obtained. For instance, if 20% of the average annual beef consumption in Peru is substituted by organic quinoa, each Peruvian would mitigate 31 kg CO 2 eq/year in their diet. Moreover, when the edible protein energy return on investment (i.e., ep-EROI) is computed, a ratio of 0.38 is obtained, in the higher range of protein rich food products. However, future research should delve into the environmental and food policy implications of agricultural land expansion to produce an increasing amount of quinoa for a growing global demand.

Idioma originalInglés
Páginas (desde-hasta)221-232
Número de páginas12
PublicaciónScience of the Total Environment
EstadoPublicada - 1 oct. 2018


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