Upfield to add carbon labels to 500 million products by 2025

Plant-based food producer Upfield is aiming to add carbon labels to 500 million of its products by 2025, after surpassing a previous milestone of adding the information to 100 million packs by the end of 2021.

Upfield to add carbon labels to 500 million products by 2025

A labelling tool will now be rolled out across all Upfield brands across Europe and North America.

Back in 2020, Upfield, which owns Flora and Proactiv, revealed plans to introduce on-pack carbon labelling to 100 million packs by the end of 2021.

The labels were added to packs sold in the UK, the US, and Upfield’s markets in mainland Europe, in a bid to help consumers understand and minimise the carbon impact of their diets.

Upfield has this week confirmed that it has surpassed the 100 million target by 20%, with 120 million packs now featuring the carbon labels.

The company is now targeting 500 million packs by 2025.

Upfield claims that the carbon footprint of its plant-based margarines and spreads is, on average, 70% lower than that of comparable dairy products. It also claims that such products require two-thirds less land use and 50% less water use than dairy butter to produce.

Upfield’s director of sustainability and ESG Sally Smith said: “We are thrilled to have exceeded our 2021 milestone and even more so that we feel confident in setting an even more ambitious goal for 2025. Calculating carbon footprints is intricate work and requires analysis across many indicators. It has taken time and investment, but we believe it is worth it, as we know that people want to make more sustainable choices and giving them the information to do that is essential.”

To assist with the goal, Upfield has invested in an independently designed in-house tool that will enable accelerated roll out of on-pack carbon labelling. The “Better Than” tool has been developed in partnership with Quantis and uses inputs based on the ingredients, production, transport, packaging and distribution of each product to automate a lifecycle assessment of the product’s environmental footprint. The tool is in accordance with ISO Standards and covers 20 markets.

The tool will now be rolled out across all Upfield brands across Europe and North America.

survey from the Carbon Trust asked 10,000 consumers across France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the US for their take on carbon labelling on groceries. 51% admitted that they did not think about the carbon impact of products when making choices at the supermarket, but more than two-thirds said they would support carbon labelling. Most of this cohort said such labels would encourage them to change their purchasing choices.

Since then, Upfield has teamed with Alpro, Oatly and ProVeg UK to form a coalition for the UK’s plant-based food and drinks sector, in a bid to engage other businesses, policymakers and individuals with the transition to more sustainable diets.

Called the Plant-Based Food Alliance UK, the initiative is also supported by charity The Vegan Society. It states that its mission is to “act as a voice” for the sector, making engagement with the government, customers and the wider private sector more effective.

Members of the Alliance will collaboratively develop a charter outlining how businesses and the Government can work together to support the uptake of plant-based diets at the levels needed for environmental reasons. The Government’s own advisor, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), has recommended that the UK’s daily red meat and dairy consumption is reduced by 20% per person by 2050, against a 2020 baseline.

The Alliance has called for universal environmental labelling of food and drink products, so customers can compare impacts such as carbon. Eco-labels have been something of a talking point in the sustainability space in recent months, with brands trialling or planning to trial them including Compass GroupLidl GBQuorn FoodsTyson, Nestle, Sainsbury’s, Costa Coffee, Marks & Spencer and VeeTee Rice. 

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