Sweden introduces climate labelling for food

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This article is part of our special report Food & Responsible Marketing.

Sweden is developing standards to help consumers make conscious choices about the impact of their decisions on global warming. Products with at least 25% greenhouse gas savings will be marked in each food category, starting with plant production, dairy and fish products.

The label is a joint initiative by the Federation of Swedish Farmers, two food labelling organisations and various dairy and meat co-operatives. 

"We don't help the consumer to choose between meat and beans," stressed Pernilla Tidåker, climate expert at the Federation of Swedish Farmers (LRF), commenting the Swedish climate label initiative. But "we do help in choosing a climate friendlier alternative within every product category," she said. 

According to Swedish studies, consumers are interested in climate-friendly products and 60% of consumers would like to see a corresponding label on the products they buy. 

The project will see standards developed for climate marking of food that has an average climate impact of 25% lower than a reference product in the same category. It will also create a monitoring system to measure and follow-up the achievements. 

Criteria for plant production, dairy and fish were launched on 26 June. Standards for other product categories will follow in October.

The leaders of the initiative stress that the label is not just "another carbon footprint scheme" and that it covers the food chain from the farm to the supermarket shelf, including distribution and packaging.

The initiative follows the presentation several weeks ago of a series of guidelines for climate-friendly food choices by the Swedish National Food Administration and the country's Environmental Protection Agency (EURACTIV 22/06/09).

EU initiatives

Meanwhile, a European Food Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) roundtable was launched in May this year. The European Commission-supported initiative seeks to develop a methodology for assessing the environmental footprint of individual food and drink items by 2011 (EURACTIV 07/05/09).

In parallel, a European Retail Forum and Retailers' Environmental Action Plan (REAP), launched earlier this year, seek to promote voluntary action to reduce the environmental footprint of the retail sector and its supply chain, promote more sustainable products, and help consumers to buy green (EURACTIV 03/03/09). 

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