FM survey: Food manufacturers lukewarm on carbon footprint labelling

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Carbon footprint, Ecological footprint

FM survey: Food manufacturers lukewarm on carbon footprint labelling
Just 15% of UK food manufacturers plan to even consider implementing carbon footprint labelling on products this year, according to the results of Food Manufacture's annual reader survey.

While an increasing number of manufacturers are now calculating their carbon footprints in order to indentify cost savings and meet CSR commitments, the results suggest that not all of them are convinced that this information is necessarily worth putting on already-crowded product labels.

It may also reflect the fact that retailers are not yet actively asking for it, with the exception of Tesco, which is leading a phased roll-out of the labels to 500 own-label products.

Asda, however, has no plans to follow suit, and argues that it is the job of its own buyers to discriminate between products on the basis of their environmental credentials.

Speaking to FoodManufacture.co.uk at the Food & Drink Expo show at the NEC earlier this year, Asda corporate social responsibility director Paul Kelly said: "I'm pretty sceptical about putting this information on labels and whether it will really mean anything to people.

"Consumers spend about two seconds looking at the front of pack and if we put another label on there it will just add to the confusion. Our buyers should make these decisions for consumers."

He added: "We said we’d create an index that would inform our buying decisions so we do look at the lifecycle of a product. Maybe that eventually finds its way to the front of pack but, if so, that’s some way down the line.

"We’d need to be really clear that this was adding value to consumers. Isn’t it more important that the buyer makes the right decision when he selects the product?"

Survey results: ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT

1 - Exploring alternatives to landfill for waste products is a key priority for my company this year.
• Agree 60%
• Disagree 31%
• Don’t know 9%

2 - Improving energy efficiency is one of the top priorities for my company this year.
• Agree 77%
• Disagree 18%
• Don’t know 5%

3 - My company is considering implementing carbon footprint labelling on products this year.
• Agree 15%
• Disagree 59%
• Don’t know 26%

4 – My company plans to determine the water footprint of its products.
• Agree 19%
• Disagree 57%
• Don’t know 24%

For the full survey results, click here.

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