Climate Change and Infant Nutrition: Estimates of Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Milk Formula Sold in Selected Asia Pacific Countries

J. P. Dadhich, Julie P. Smith*, Alessandro Iellamo, Adlina Suleiman

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: There is growing recognition that current food systems and policies are environmentally unsustainable. There is an identified need to integrate sustainability objectives into national food policy and dietary recommendations. Research Aims: To (1) describe exploratory estimates of greenhouse gas emission factors for all infant and young child milk formula products and (2) estimate national greenhouse gas emission association with commercial milk formulas sold in selected countries in the Asia Pacific region. Method: We used a secondary data analysis descriptive design incorporating a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) concepts and methodology to estimate kg CO2 eq. emissions per kg of milk formula, using greenhouse gas emission factors for milk powder, vegetable oils, and sugars identified from a literature review. Proportions of ingredients were calculated using FAO Codex Alimentarius guidance on milk formula products. Estimates were calculated for production and processing of individual ingredients from cradle to factory gate. Annual retail sales data for 2012–2017 was sourced from Euromonitor International for six purposively selected countries; Australia, South Korea, China, Malaysia, India, Philippines. Results: Annual emissions for milk formula products ranged from 3.95–4.04 kg CO2 eq. Milk formula sold in the six countries in 2012 contributed 2,893,030 tons CO2 eq. to global greenhouse gas emissions. Aggregate emissions were highest for products (e.g., toddler formula), which dominated sales growth. Projected 2017 emissions for milk formula retailed in China alone were 4,219,052 tons CO2 eq. Conclusions: Policies, programs and investments to shift infant and young child diets towards less manufactured milk formula and more breastfeeding are “Triple Duty Actions” that help improve dietary quality and population health and improve the sustainability of the global food system.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)314-322
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Human Lactation
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - May 2021


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