Tetra Pak has led a group of food and drink industry experts calling on the Government to develop a framework for environmental labelling on food which would enable consumers to make more informed choices. In a new report, Tetra Pak has appealed to the Government to broaden and improve consumer engagement and understanding of the role played by the food system in driving the UK’s sustainability and net zero goals.
The Government’s Food Strategy, published in 2022, recognises the need to reduce the environmental impact of the food system, but does not consider how to address consumer engagement and behaviour in order to achieve the UK’s broader climate goals. According to research conducted by Tetra Pak, half of consumers will take into account a brand’s decarbonisation efforts or sustainability credentials when making a purchase.
The expert group consulted for the report, which included Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Energy & Climate Change, Danone, Oatly and WWF UK amongst others, highlighted the value of existing nutritional labelling on food which informs consumer choices.
Using this as a model, the group argues consumers have a right to the same level of information regarding the environmental impact of their food, so they can make more sustainable choices. The report states that “to drive meaningful long-term change, consumers must be able to compare labels across products”, meaning environmental labelling on food packaging should be standardised to reduce consumer confusion and maximise engagement. Once developed, the group calls for any such labelling to be made mandatory.
The recommendation is one of many in the report, which also examines how to drive a UK circular economy, how food waste and loss can be reduced, and how better education can be delivered in schools on the impact of the food system on climate change. The Government should continue to progress the waste and recycling agenda by promoting the use of circular materials, and developing consumer awareness campaigns outlining the impact of the food choices we make.
Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Climate Emergency and Energy, said, “Current Government proposals fail to consider the important role consumers have to play in driving change as we look to decarbonise the UK’s food system and meet our net zero goals. Even if we collectively stopped using all fossil fuels tomorrow, the current food system would still push us beyond the 1.5° target agreed in the Paris Climate Agreement. We have to address the way we feed our growing population and that has to be a journey we take consumers on. One of the simplest ways we can do this is by making them aware of the environmental impact food has, through clear labelling.”
Alex Henriksen, Managing Director, North Europe and UK, Tetra Pak, commented, “We must not underestimate the role we all have to play in the global food system, and how it must be decarbonised in order to meet global net zero goals. The Government should take action and support consumers to play their part. Tetra Pak will continue to drive the conversation that this report stimulates, which provides the Government with a clear next steps for actions to decarbonise the UK’s food system. We hope they will review the report, and its recommendations, to continue to drive action in this area.”