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I've seen a few papers (like this and this) which suggest that fresh pineapple is less CO2-intense (also way less fresh water-intense) than canned pineapple in a few different contexts.

However, these papers don't seem to deal with wastage, storage and transport. It seems to me that canned pineapple might have an advantage in these areas.

So what do you think? Does canned pineapple produce more CO2 per calorie than fresh? I'm sure it depends a lot on the specifics. What factors would have the biggest effect on the answer?

Similar question: Is canned fish more sustainable than fresh?

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  • I am not certain about canned versus fresh pineapple. However, on a related topic of discussion, sun-dried pineapple moves less carbon from planet earth's crust into the atmosphere than canned pineapple and sun-dried pineapple decays (gets moldy) more slowly than frwsh pineapple. The shelf life of dried fruit in sealed containers is great compared to fresh fruit. I did not say that dried pineaapple tastes the same as canned pineapple, but sun-dried pineapple has a smaller carbon footprint than pineapple canned in water. Dec 11, 2023 at 4:55

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It all depends on the energy source used by canneries.

During the canning process the pineapples have have to be washed, peeled, cut up, most likely cooked, the cans/containers sterilized, sealed, labelled and sent to storage for transportation to consumers.

If the energy used to do all of of this is derived from renewables then the amount of CO2 will be close to zero. However, most canneries purchase their electricity from a supplier and in most situations that electricity will have been generated by CO2 producing power plants.

To answer your question, until all canneries use renewable sources of energy, the products they produce will have a higher carbon footprint than fresh versions of the product.

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    Sorry I'm too new to upvote yet. Is the energy use from canning meaningfully balanced by any of those other factors? (less need for refrigeration, maybe less waste or lower transportation emissions) Jul 13, 2023 at 13:49
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    What about transport? If you don't live in a place with pineapples available nearby, I would expect that transportation of fresh pineapples to have a higher gCO2e/kcal than transportation of canned pineapples -- because fresh pineapples spoil faster, so you may need to use, e.g., air freight instead of sea freight. How would this compare to the footprint of canning?
    – a3nm
    Aug 14, 2023 at 12:54

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