The Finnish government is prepared to meet with food manufacturers and retailers to discuss initiatives to introduce ethical labelling systems in the country.

"Ethical labelling and smart food strategies are the future," said Environment Minister Paula Lehtomäki.

"We want to know the level of interest that exists among manufacturers and the retailing sector for such initiatives. The government is prepared to support private sector initiatives, and we are currently examining a number of ways to support ethical labelling."

The Environment Ministry is in discussions with the Finance Ministry to establish a support basis for the ethical labelling of foods. One proposal being examined is setting lower VAT rates for ethically labelled foods. 

"The core value of ethical labelling is to inform shoppers where and how produce has been grown and processed. This informs their choice, and favours the purchase of healthier foods," said Lehtomäki.

Finland's foods sector made a first step towards ethical labelling in last year when the industry launched a joint strategy to make Finland a forerunner in wellness foods and labelling by 2015.

The strategy was launched by Sitra, the state-owned innovation fund, as part of Sitra's Food and Nutrition Programme which aims to improve the competitiveness of the Finnish foods sector and expand the range of healthy food choices.