event 12 Apr 2022

Research Article // Water–Energy–Food Nexus and Life Cycle Thinking: A New Approach to Environmental and Nutritional Assessment of Potato Chips

By Fernández-Ríos Ana and colleagues. This study addresses the water–energy–food Nexus issues by analyzing the environmental impacts and nutritional quality of artisanal potato chips. The joint application of LCA and the NRF9.3 index enabled a better understanding of how the product affects consumers’ health and environmental degradation in terms of GHG emissions, eutrophication potentials, and water and energy consumption, helping producers and consumers in the decision-making processes.

category Research Papers, Publications and Books tag Economy tag Circular economy tag Ecosystems tag Food and Agriculture tag Irrigation tag Nexus methodology tag Modelling and assessment
Foods 11 01018 g002

Figure 2. Flow diagram of the system under study.


The water–energy–food (WEF) Nexus has become a key concept to promote the cross-sectoral coordination toward sustainable development. In particular, understanding the interdependences of these pillars, as well as addressing a life cycle perspective, is essential when evaluating food production systems. This study explores the environmental impacts and nutritional quality of potato chips, addressing life cycle thinking and a WEF Nexus approach. For this purpose, the combined application of life cycle assessment (LCA) and the Nutrient-Rich Food 9.3 (NRF9.3) index was considered to identify the main environmental hotspots and advanced opportunities. The results indicated a major contribution of the cultivation stage on water use, whereas the processing accounted for most of the impacts in energy-related indicators and eutrophication potentials. Improvement opportunities reside in the joint application of drip irrigation, allowing to achieve important water savings, as well as the use of natural gas or pellets instead of diesel, which constitute cleaner energy sources. On the other hand, a poor nutritional density of potato chips became evident from the quantification of the NRF9.3, which can be significantly improved if potatoes undergo a roasted process instead of frying.


March 2022




Fernández-Ríos, A., Laso, J., Amo-Setién, F. J., Abajas-Bustillo, R., Ortego-Mate, C., Fullana-i-Palmer, P., ... & Margallo, M. (2022). Water–Energy–Food Nexus and Life Cycle Thinking: A New Approach to Environmental and Nutritional Assessment of Potato Chips. Foods, 11(7), 1018.


Download the full research article here.

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