Food manufacturers and retailers have today (19 November) been urged to think more laterally to reduce their CO2 emissions in their use of technology use and management of production.

Speaking during a debate on sustainability at the CIAA Congress in Brussels, EU environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik told delegates that properly insulated fridge doors, for instance, could save supermarkets up to 40% of their energy costs. “It makes no sense to heat up a supermarket and cool it at the same time,” he said, stressing that food manufacturing will become central in future to the EU’s environment strategy.

The Slovene Commissioner said food manufacturers needed to give more thought to their impact on CO2 emissions in processing. He claimed, for example, that 50% of emissions caused by a piece of pork comes from processing.

Mikael Karlsson, president of NGO the European Environmental Bureau called on the food industry to be systematic in reducing its carbon footprint and measure each year the progress it makes in reducing its environmental impact.

Karlsson said there would be pressure from his organisation and others on the EU to improve its targets on climate change beyond its current aim of limiting an increase in temperature to two degrees. “We should speed up the reduction process,” he said.

He also pointed to major climate-linked cost issues on the horizon. “We see great changes in policies and also pricing very soon. Ten years from now it’s perfectly possible petrol prices will be three times their present level,” he warned. 

The president of Coca-Cola Co.’s European operations, Dominique Reiniche, admitted major food and drink manufacturers had a special responsibility for greening the supply chain. She stressed her own company’s consumer campaign, ‘Ecofun’, designed to make the public increasingly aware of environmental threats. The company puts packets of seeds with its product packs to highlight the natural source of its ingredients.