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Manufacturing Industry Updates Retail Industry Updates

Consumers Want Carbon Labeling, and Upfield is Giving it to Them

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Upfield produces more than 100 brands of plant-based spreads and cheeses, including Country Crock Plant Butter in the United States and Flora Plant in the U.K. and Ireland, which have introduced the new labels.

Upfield, which produces more than 100 brands of plant-based spreads and cheeses, is introducing on-pack carbon labeling to 100 million packs of its products by the end of 2021.

The Amsterdam-based company said its goal is to help consumers make informed decisions about the environmental impact of the foods they choose. Upfield produces more than 100 brands of plant-based spreads and cheeses, including Country Crock Plant Butter in the United States and Flora Plant in the U.K. and Ireland, which have introduced the new labels. In the coming months Upfield plans to roll out the labels on its leading brands, including Flora, Becel, ProActiv and Rama.

Upfield cited this report in saying that consumer behavior is positively affected by carbon labeling with purchasing decisions. When consumers can make direct comparisons between different food groups, they opt for food with lower environmental impacts, according to the company. Consumers tend to underestimate the carbon impact of the foods they eat, so informing and inspiring them to choose foods that are not only healthier, but more sustainable, is a crucial step in the transition toward a more sustainable food system, the company stated.

“Today’s food labels already provide consumers with a lot of important information about ingredients, health benefits, allergens, storage and use,” said Jeanette Fielding, Upfield’s chief corporate affairs and communications officer. “By adding carbon labels, consumers will also be able to understand the impact their food choices have on our climate. This initiative will support the transition to a more sustainable food system, using full disclosure and transparency as a key motivator for sustainable food choices. We call upon our industry peers to follow suit and implement on-pack carbon labeling now.”

Following an initial study in 2016, Upfield commissioned Swiss sustainability consultancy Quantis to independently assess the environmental impact of the entire life cycle Upfield’s products. The results were published in a peer-reviewed study in the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment. Upfield said the study, conducted across 21 markets in Europe and North America, found that the production of Upfield’s plant-based margarines and spreads have on average a 70% smaller carbon footprint, use half the amount of water and occupy two-thirds less land than dairy butter.

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

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