Weaned to be green

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Carbon footprint, Label

Weaned to be green
The government may be keen to go green, but it will take more than an eco-label to change shoppers' buying habits, says Rick Pendrous

Most people care about the environmental impact of the food and drink they buy. But, according to a new survey carried out for Food Manufacture, while most would like to see some form of eco-labelling to inform their choice, far fewer claim it would definitely influence what they buy.

Researchers, government bodies, retailers and manufacturers investigating different eco-labelling systems should also take account of this consumer poll conducted by Harris Interactive. While most people are worried about the carbon footprint of their food (62%) and the majority (56%) would like to see all products carry an eco-label, just under half (45%) would like to see an all-encompassing label.

In contrast, only 12% expressed a preference for food miles labelling; while even fewer (7%) opted for carbon footprint labels alone. So in total 64% want some form of labelling, compared with 17% against and 19% not sure.

Food minister Lord Jeff Rooker would appear to have his finger on the electorate's pulse in this respect. In an interview with Food Manufacture (see p32), he said: "Local food and food miles does not tell you everything ... The main thing that you want with this is something that in terms of labelling is simple and consistent. If everyone tries for different kinds of labelling it will be chaos out there."

While most people want their food to carry 'green' labels, our poll's finding that only 27% of respondents would definitely use them to select food and drink with a lower carbon footprint is of key significance. It seems that when push comes to shove, other factors such as value for money, taste and convenience may have an even greater part to play.

Women come out slightly higher (31%) in claiming that labelling would influence their purchasing, while 35-44 year olds are the age group most likely to be influenced by green labelling (32%). Those living in London were also most likely to be influenced (36%).

Rooker added: "The fact is, you'll never change everybody in a market the size of ours. But if half the buying public actually bought with an ethical pound, that would make a difference." FM

This national poll was conducted online by Harris Interactive on May 2-8, among 946 adults aged over 16 years in Britain. For more information, contact Brendan Russell​ on 0208 263 5382

Related topics: NPD

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