Half of consumers want carbon footprint labelling on food products

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Half of consumers want carbon footprint labelling on food products

Half of consumers want carbon footprint labelling on food products
September 12
14:21 2022
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The Compleat Food Group (TCFG), the chilled prepared food processor, has launched a White Paper advising the UK Grocery sector and Government to improve education, simplify product labelling and to normalise low carbon food to help consumers make more informed and sustainable choices.

The ‘Impact Eating: The Rise of Carbon Labelling’ report demonstrates that despite an overwhelming desire from consumers for their food and drink to have a low carbon footprint, a lack of understanding and inconsistent and unclear labelling is making it almost impossible for consumers to make better food choices.

The report goes on to advise that the development of simple and consistent on-pack carbon labelling could be a powerful tool to overcoming these barriers, alongside a joined-up effort from Government and the industry to improve public education.

Combining consumer research with industry data, the TCFG White Paper identified that while 73% of consumers feel it is important for their food and drink to have a low carbon footprint, only one-quarter (25%) felt they fully understood what ‘carbon neutral’ means and only 20% fully understood the term ‘net zero’.

This is alongside nearly half of all of consumers (49%) who want to see carbon footprint labelling on food and drink products, and 52% who would want to be able to find out more in store or on shelf in addition to product packaging.

The White Paper also highlights the huge potential opportunity that improving consumer choice and access to low impact products offers the UK grocery sector. Currently, sustainably-minded shoppers represent 29% of the population worth £37 billion, with 18-34 year olds more likely to buy products with a lower carbon footprint over other products. However, research from Kantar identified a further 34% of the UK population who would like to shop more sustainably, but can’t, as products are harder to find or too expensive, potentially worth a further £44 billion.

The key issues identified in the White Paper include the following:

  • Varying degrees of consumer understanding of relevant terminology relating to low carbon food and drink
  • A need for clearer guidance and advice from producers and retailers on-pack and in store
  • A lack of a standardised approach and labelling e.g. a single recognisable marque.

The report goes on to provide advice and make a number of recommendations including the need for the Government and industry to work together to educate and engage with the public, the need for on-pack messaging to be simplified making it easy for consumers to make purchasing decisions at the fixture, companies normalising low carbon food and drink production so it becomes an everyday staple, better data so carbon claims can stand up to closer scrutiny, policy and regulatory intervention with teeth and the integration of carbon labelling into broader net zero strategies.

Yvonne Adam, chief marketing officer at The Compleat Food Group, said: “It’s clear that UK consumers want to make better choices for their own wellbeing and for the health of the planet, but they are struggling to make informed decisions through a lack of understanding and unclear messaging. Clear carbon labelling could be a big step in the right direction.

“One of the first actions will be to find the carbon ‘calorie’ factor that makes carbon relevant to consumers lifestyles and it should be consistent and integrated with other on-pack nutritional and health information not viewed in isolation. We see the White Paper as a positive step in helping to achieve this and we’re sharing the findings to support and drive change in the food and drink sector.”

The White Paper has been launched ahead of the group’s own ESG Impact Strategy. CEO, Nick Field, explained: “We can no longer focus on just minimising environmental impacts, we have to go much, much further.  What we do next as a sector will have a major bearing on the health and welfare of future generations at a time when we are navigating some of the strongest headwinds ever faced. With the war in Ukraine, the climate crisis, the rising cost of living and an increase in dissenting voices in the media, the sustainability agenda has never been more important, but never under such threat.

“We need cross sector collaboration supported by Government policy to create a positive food culture centred around great tasting, nutritious, sustainable food. That’s why supporting consumers with clearer labelling and access to accurate information to enable them to make informed choices to eat better for their health and the planet needs to be a priority for food manufacturers and brands.

“So, we are undertaking a number of projects that look at our products and how we can reduce their carbon impact and make it easier for consumers to understand and access them as sustainable, healthier choices. In addition, we have committed that by 2035 we will be a business operating with net zero emissions and, by 2040, through our entire supply chain.”

To download and read the full report, please visit https://www.compleatfood.com/carbon-labelling

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