Carbon labelling for food

Tesco’s boss has announced carbon labelling for Tesco products. Meanwhile M&S is going carbon neutral, and Wal-Mart’s CEO is here in the UK in a couple of weeks to speak at a Prince of Wales do on the environment. Who could have predicted this lot a couple of years ago? Not Ethical Corp. for sure, we missed this one coming!

The papers and media took a supportively sceptical view (see headline link and this one:)


What do blog readers think? Post us your comments! Our Deputy Editor John Russell attended the event last week where Leahy announced Tesco’s carbon labelling (no targets, perhaps forgivably), and will post his thoughts on here later today.

Here’s a comment from the end of the Times article above that might get some comments flowing:

“Research conducted for The Sunday Times by Trucost, a provider of environmental data, shows that the combined direct emissions — from fuel, gas and electricity — of M&S, Wm Morrison, Tesco and Sainsbury amount to only 0.72% of the UK’s overall carbon-dioxide emissions.”

Toby Webb, Editor


  1. That’s right, supermarkets are responsible for just a fraction of total
    UK carbon dioxide emissions. But they could play a crucial role in
    reducing greenhouse gases, for two main reasons. First, supermarkets
    dominate the food and drinks industry, which as a whole accounts for
    18% of UK carbon dioxide emissions (mostly from farming). If Tesco
    wants lower-carbon products on its shelves, suppliers will have to
    deliver. Second, supermarkets are masters of shaping consumer demand.
    With up to 75% of purchasing decisions made in store, retailers have
    the marketing expertise to stimulate demand for low-carbon products.
    Reward schemes offer the perfect means of developing a “carbon
    currency”, offering people incentives to buy products with lower carbon
    footprints. Of course, there is currently no agreed means of
    calculating the carbon footprint of a pint of milk or a bunch of
    bananas. Tesco is investing £5 million a year in research on this
    subject. Whether its findings receive industry-wide acceptance will be
    a matter for future debate. A greater problem is the structure of
    supermarket operations – stores scattered across the country and a few
    large, centralised distribution centres. This set-up does not fit with
    the sourcing and selling of food locally. How Tesco and co. deal with
    this logistical dilemma will be fascinating to see. John Russell,
    deputy editor

  2. Good on Tescos. Hope they do it in Oz as well.

    I’m also interested in getting virtual water on labels as well, and not just food but other products.

    Any news on that?

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