Less than a decade since Tesco abandoned labelling the carbon footprints of its products, carbon-labelled products are making their way into its stores by a different route. Quorn ® became the first major brand to introduce carbon labelling on its products in 2020. The new labels are aimed at helping consumers understand the environmental impact of their products. Quorn ® claims to be the first meat-free food manufacturer to achieve third-party certification of its carbon footprint figures via the Carbon Trust. Plant-based producer Upfield has since followed suit by announcing plans to introduce carbon labelling across its portfolio by the end of 2021.
This voluntary carbon labelling may however be overtaken by mandatory labelling in the near future. The Food and Drink Federation revealed at its annual convention in December that Government planned to consult on mandatory carbon labelling as part of a post-Brexit review of packaging requirements and labelling. A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has confirmed that Government is committed to a wide-ranging review of food labelling following the end of the transition period.
We will have to wait and see whether or not the outcome of the review includes mandatory carbon labelling. However, since the move towards a net zero target in the UK appears to be gaining momentum, it is not outside the realms of possibility that carbon labelling may yet again rise to the top of the agenda.
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