Towards the decentralisation of food manufacture: effect of scale production on economics, carbon footprint and energy demand

Alberto Almena Ruiz, Estefania Lopez-Quiroga, Peter Fryer, Serafim Bakalis

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
182 Downloads (Pure)


Most food products are currently processed in large, centralised factories with delocalised retail systems, which allows food processors benefit from economies of scale. This is efficient in terms of production, but can involve lengthy and rigid supply chains, with higher transport costs and environmental impacts. Decentralised manufacturing, based on local production at small scale, has risen recently as an alternative that could provide flexibility to the food supply chain. In this work we present a modelling tool for the design, evaluation and comparison of food manufacturing processes that considers economic, environmental and social factors. The proposed method can be applied to a wide range of food products and is illustrated here using cereal porridge and sandwich bread production. We have assessed and compared three decentralised scenarios: “Home Manufacturing” (HM), “Food Incubator” (FI) and “Distributed Manufacturing” (DM) to centralised production –i.e. Single Plant (SP) and Multi Plant (MP) scenarios. Based on UK demand, SP is the most energy efficient and cheapest scenario in both cases, closely followed by HM and FI in cereal porridge production. DM could compete with SP assuming low management costs and savings on transportation/storage along the supply chain. For the case study on bread, the shorter margin of profit per unit makes decentralised scenarios less advantageous.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-189
Number of pages8
JournalEnergy Procedia
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2019
EventInternational Conference on Sustainable Energy and Resource Use in Food Chains - Paphos, Cyprus
Duration: 17 Oct 201819 Oct 2018
Conference number: 2nd


  • Descentralization
  • Distributed
  • Food
  • Footprint
  • Manufacturing
  • Scale-down

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy(all)


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