Manufacturers and retailers are being invited to join a new research network that aims to slash carbon dioxide emissions from the UK's food chain.
The Food Climate Research Network, which is formally launched later this month, is funded by a three-year, £155,000 government grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
It will review existing research and propose new ways of cleaning up the food chain, which accounts for a fifth of emissions. Everything from agriculture and food processing to distribution, home storage and preparation, and waste treatment, will be covered.
The network brings together government agencies, consumer bodies, university research departments, food manufacturers and retailers.
It is being co-ordinated by Tara Garnett, a researcher at the Centre for Environmental Strategy at the University of Surrey and author of the Wise Moves report for Transport 2000, which explored the relationship between food, transport and carbon dioxide emissions.
Garnett said the network's brief was wide and would take in energy efficient food processing and even the energy make-up of our diet. "For instance, those air-freighted blueberries may be good for you, but they are not energy efficient," she said.
Another potential area for research is the reduction of household food waste. "It is estimated that 11% of food is wasted. We throw away £450 of food a year per household," said Garnett.