The Carbon Footprint of Food
Our food system is a major driver of the climate crisis. It accounts for approximately 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions - that’s more than a quarter! And WRAP suggests that this could be even higher in the UK, estimating that food and drink contributes 35% of emissions.
Incoming regulations will therefore undoubtedly seek to address the problem - and potential - of the food industry.
Regulations will focus primarily on:
- Decarbonising the food industry by addressing farmers, suppliers and businesses that control the various processes across the food supply chain…
…As well as:
- Promoting individual behaviour changes that help shift diets towards food that better serves the planet.
The UK Food Strategy
Released in 2022, the UK Food Strategy covers three key areas for policy making, and reaches beyond climate action to consider other important sustainability aspects:
- Food security and sustainable production.
- Healthier and sustainable eating.
- The UK as part of a global food system.
As part of this Strategy, Defra introduces The Food Data Transparency Partnership. This will involve collaboration between industry stakeholders to establish a set of metrics (including sustainability focused ones) that businesses will be required to report against, which they intend to explore by the end of this year. While initially targeted at large businesses, as with Scope 1 to 3 reporting, it will undoubtedly provide a useful reporting framework for all food providers.
The Partnership also aims to ensure consumers have the information they need to make better food choices, as well as motivating businesses to produce better food. This will be achieved, in part, by developing a mandatory methodology for those using eco-labels or making sustainability claims, as a way of protecting consumers against greenwashing.
This ties in with the UK Green Claims Code - you can read our rundown here.
The EU’s Farm to Fork (F2F) Strategy
Let’s hop across the English channel to see what the EU has to say on this. A key objective of the F2F Strategy, launched as part of the European Green Deal in May 2020, is to publish a legislative framework for sustainable food systems by the end of 2023. This will similarly include a sustainability labelling scheme, mandating companies to provide consumers with better farm-to-fork traceability on their products.
One option considered by the EU for standardising environmental impact assessments is the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) methodology, which encompasses 16 different impact categories. This approach has garnered some criticism, including claims that it lacks the necessary specificity.
Planet-score - the labelling framework soon to be rolled out compulsorily across France - is set to be the first countrywide environmental labelling scheme. Depending on its success, this will likely be indicative of the future of labelling.
With new food regulations promoting transparency in the UK, Europe, and beyond, it’s fair to assume that food businesses will soon be required to measure their environmental impact, and share this openly with their customers. At Foodsteps, we’re leaders in helping businesses achieve both. By tapping into our solutions you’ll easily navigate the shift towards a sustainable food system.
If your food business is ready to start measuring, reporting and reducing its impact in alignment with ever-evolving regulations - Foodsteps could be the data partner for you. Try Foodsteps for free today.
Credit: This piece was written by Antonio Salituro, you can find his work here.