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An Overview of Life Cycle Assessment and Food Supply Chain
Food supply chains have a significant impact on the environment, using large amount of fossil energy, non-renewable sources, water supplies and leaving burdens with various consequences like acidification, eutrophication, toxicity and climate change. Food supply chains usually represents complex systems, and for a proper evaluation require a study of the entire system, from primary production to exploring end-of-life food waste solutions. One of the most common used tools for measuring and evaluating environment impacts of individual elements in the supply chains and to evaluate system as a whole, is a life cycle assessment. Thus, food supply chains and life cycle assessment are important topics, which require an in-depth discussion on existing research and development, especially those related to the environmental impacts and methodologies. This paper focuses on a review of the use of the life cycle assessment in the food supply chains. Within the paper emphasises are given to the research areas, methodologies, functional units, system boundaries, and environmental impacts, and future trends. Sixty-six studies (only research and review papers), were reviewed, sourced from the Web of Science. To carry out the quantitative content analysis of the study Leximancer software was employed, which identifies the main concepts and their correlations, conducting thematic and semantic analyses by using two stages of co-occurrence information – semantic and relational. The algorithms used are statistical, integrating nonlinear dynamics and machine learning. The emerged results will be represented via concept maps, identifying dominant concepts and their trends, giving a comprehensive review of the life cycle assessment research in the food supply chains as well as research gaps which need to be fulfilled.