Swedish oat milk company Oatly has launched a campaign in the UK, urging all food and beverage companies to disclose the climate impact of their products.
This initiative coincides with the release of the company’s ‘grey paper’ – called Climate Labelling: Why Not? – a document outlining the rationale for mandatory climate labelling.
New research conducted by Oatly underscores strong public support for carbon labelling on food and drink items, particularly among younger generations. The findings reveal that 62% of UK consumers favour the introduction of carbon labelling on food and drink products, with 55% believing that companies should be obliged to provide this information.
A significant 59% of respondents would consider reducing or entirely discontinuing the consumption of high carbon footprint food and drink products if provided with accurate emissions data.
These insights highlight the need for greater transparency in the industry regarding the environmental impact of their products.
The campaign also challenges the dairy industry, urging it to disclose its climate impact data. To show its commitment to the cause, Oatly has offered free high-profile advertising space to ‘Big Dairy’ if they are willing to publish the full climate footprint of their products.
Bryan Carroll, UK general manager at Oatly, commented: “The food and drink we consume is responsible for a third of total UK emissions. Scientists, including the UK government’s own Climate Change Committee, are clear that those emissions must urgently come down, and consumer behaviour change is a necessary part of that. Our view is that it’s unreasonable to expect this to happen when consumers are not being given the information they need to make informed choices.”
Oatly’s ‘grey paper’provides three key arguments for mandatory climate labelling. Firstly, it points out that emissions from the food system currently account for 35% of total UK greenhouse gas emissions. Second, consumers are already provided with similar information when making decisions in other areas, such as buying a house or a car. Lastly, there is widespread public support for mandatory carbon labelling as a means to facilitate more informed choices.
In light of these developments, Oatly is encouraging like-minded businesses to join the campaign and collaborate with policymakers to establish an effective climate labelling system that serves consumers and the environment.
As the UK government initiates the Food Data Transparency Partnership and explores climate labelling policies for food and drink, Oatly has been proactive in publishing the climate impact data of its products on-pack in the UK since 2019.
Carroll added: “We’re inviting those across the full spectrum of the food industry to come together and work out what an effective climate labelling system should look like. One that doesn’t cost the earth but helps preserve the Earth.”
Key insights from the survey
According to the report, the majority of UK consumers view carbon labelling on food and drink as a positive initiative. When asked whether carbon labelling on food packaging was a “good idea,” more than twice as many respondents agreed compared to those who disagreed, with 52% in favour and only 23% opposed to the concept.
Among younger consumers (aged 18-34) the support was even more significant, with 65% endorsing carbon labelling, while only 19% expressed disapproval.
The survey also highlighted a belief among consumers that companies should be obligated to disclose carbon information on their products. A majority of respondents (55%) supported mandatory carbon labelling, while only 23% were against it. This sentiment was most pronounced among younger individuals, with 74% of those aged 18-34 advocating for mandatory carbon information disclosure.
Meanwhile, 59% of respondents said they would be willing to alter their food and drink consumption behaviour if they had access to accurate carbon footprint information. Specifically, 11% of those surveyed stated they would cease consuming products with a high carbon footprint entirely, while 48% indicated they would reduce their consumption of such items.
Among those aged 18-34, 74% expressed a willingness to make changes to their diets, with 54% planning to reduce their consumption of high carbon footprint products and 20% intending to cease consumption entirely.
When provided with context regarding the emissions of the food system, the survey demonstrated strong support for a carbon labelling policy. 62% of all UK adults expressed a favourable stance on the introduction of carbon labelling on food and drink products, compared to 29% who were not in favour.
This support strengthened when participants were informed that the food and drink industry is responsible for one-third of total UK greenhouse gas emissions. In this case, a remarkable 77% of people aged 18-34 endorsed the implementation of carbon labelling on food and drink products.
The survey also highlighted that consumers are as enthusiastic about receiving climate data on food and drink as they are about other forms of mandatory labelling. A clear majority, 55% of UK consumers, agreed that emissions information should be mandatory for food and drink, mirroring its requirement for items such as houses, cars or electrical appliances.
This enthusiasm was most pronounced among those aged 18-34, with 66% favoring carbon footprint information on food and drink compared to 9% opposing. In this age group, carbon footprint information was considered more useful than recycling information (40% versus 33%).
Additionally, 40% expressed that they would find carbon labels for food and drink more useful than energy consumption labels for devices like TVs, which garnered only 30% support.
T&Cs for billboard activation
Oatly has offered select dairy manfacturers the opportunity to claim advertising space worth up to €140,000. The offer is exclusive to the first approved dairy company that accepts it based on the provided terms and conditions.
This advertising opportunity is limited to cow’s milk products with a comprehensive product climate footprint analysis and is contingent on the verification of factual accuracy, absence of misleading information, and sufficient substantiation. The dairy company will be required to provide the evidence requested for this purpose.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2023
World Beverage Innovation Awards – NOW OPEN FOR ENTRIES!
The awards celebrate excellence and innovation across the global beverage industry.
Don’t miss out on having your innovations recognised on a global scale.
Deadline for entries 23 July – enter now!
Don’t get left behind
Start your free Foodbev magazine trial today and join thousands of fellow industry professionals in receiving food and drink trends direct to our business.
Click here to start your free trial