As part of a broad study on consumer attitudes to green issues when food shopping, Zaina Gadema, a researcher at Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, asked 432 supermarket shoppers about their views and understanding of carbon labeling.
The survey found that 72 per cent of respondents want carbon labels, with consumers commonly saying that the data would help them think ‘green’ when shopping.
Despite the widespread interest, more than three quarters of shoppers said they are much more concerned about quality and taste than environmental issues.
Lack of understanding
In addition, there is currently little understanding of how to interpret information on carbon footprints.
With only a very small number of products carrying carbon labels it is difficult for consumers to make comparisons.
Starting with milk, Tesco began to print carbon labels on some of its products last year, but it will take time for such labeling to become the rule, not the exception.
Nevertheless, Gadema is confident that consumer understanding will improve as more labels appear on food products. The logistics and supply chain researcher said: “Greater and clearer use of carbon labels would help even more shoppers associate the importance of climate change with food purchasing.”
The publication of the survey comes on the back of the publication this week of the DEFRA Food 2030 strategy report outlining UK government priorities for the food sector.
One of the main conclusions of that report was the need for improved labelling to help consumers make more informed choices. More specifically, the report called for better environmental and welfare information on food products, along with improved country of origin labelling.