Flora owner to roll out carbon labelling to 100 million packs

Upfield joins the likes of Quorn Foods in opting to roll out carbon labelling

The labels will be added to packs sold in the UK, the US, and Upfield’s markets in mainland Europe, in a bid to help consumers understand and minimise the carbon impact of their diets.

They have already been added to Country Crock Plant Butter lines sold in the US and Flora Plant lines sold in the UK and Ireland. In the coming months, they will be rolled out across Flora, Proactiv, Rama and Becel products.

Upfield claims that the carbon footprint of its plant-based margarines and spreads is, on average, 70% lower than that of comparable dairy products. It also claims that such products require two-thirds less land use and 50% less water use than dairy butter to produce.

According to the firm’s chief corporate affairs and communications officer Jeanette Fielding, “full disclosure and transparency” can act as a “key motivator for sustainable food choices”.

A recent survey from the Carbon Trust asked 10,000 consumers across France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the US for their take on carbon labelling on groceries. 51% admitted that they did not think about the carbon impact of products when making choices at the supermarket, but more than two-thirds said they would support carbon labelling. Most of this cohort said such labels would encourage them to change their purchasing choices.

Upfield will use lifecycle assessments, verified by a third party, to calculate the figures it will list on the new labels.

“Living within environmental limits for a growing global population requires a shift from growers, manufacturers and consumers,” Upfield’s head of sustainability Sally Smith said. “Sharing science-based environmental assessments is the only responsible way of communicating to consumers the climate impact of their food choices.”

Counting carbon

Upfield is not the only plant-based food brand rolling out carbon labelling; Quorn Foods began rolling out climate labels back in January.

By the end of the year, Quorn is hoping to have labels on 60% of its products by volume. It claims that the lifecycle emissions of its Mycoprotein are up to 90% lower than those of beef.

Elsewhere, Nestle and Premier Foods both revealed last year that they are considering adding carbon labelling to their products. The companies have both set internal carbon reduction aims – with Premier Foods targeting a 55% absolute footprint reduction by 2025 against a 2018 baseline, and Nestle aiming for net-zero on a global basis by 2050 – and claim labelling could help engage customers with their efforts.

Away from the grocery sector, Logitech and Allbirds are also piloting environmental labelling. A recent letter to the government, co-signed by Mike Gill, a former regional director of public health for south-east England, outlined the benefits of adding mandating carbon and health labelling to high-carbon services and goods, including petrol and diesel.

Sarah George

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