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August 12, 2020

Upfield unveils carbon-labelling commitment

Plant-based dairy-alternative business Upfield has made an environmental commitment it said will impact up to 100 million product packs.

By Leonie Barrie

Plant-based dairy-alternative business Upfield is to introduce carbon labelling on its product packs by the end of next year.

The Flora spreads owner suggested up to 100 million packs of its plant-based spreads, margarines, plant-based butters, and plant-based creams will carry labelling detailing their carbon footprint.

Upfield said the aim of the move is to help consumers make informed decisions about the environmental impact of the foods they choose. 

Brands including Country Crock Plant Butter in the US and Flora Plant in the UK and Ireland have introduced the new labels. In the coming months, Upfield, formed when private-equity firm KKR acquired Unilever’s spreads business in 2017, plans to roll out the labels on brands including Flora, Becel, ProActiv and Rama.

Dr. Jeanette Fielding, chief corporate affairs and communications officer at Upfield, said: “Today’s food labels already provide consumers with a lot of important information about ingredients, health benefits, allergens, storage and use. By adding carbon labels, consumers will also be able to understand the impact their food choices have on our climate.

“This initiative will support the transition to a more sustainable food system, using full disclosure and transparency as a key motivator for sustainable food choices. We call upon our industry peers to follow suit and implement on-pack carbon labelling now.”

Following an initial study in 2016, Netherlands-based Upfield commissioned Swiss sustainability consultancy Quantis to independently assess the environmental impact of the entire life cycle of its products. 

The study, conducted across 21 markets in Europe and North America, found Upfield’s plant-based margarines and spreads have on average a 70% smaller carbon footprint, use half the amount of water and occupy two thirds less land than dairy butter, the company said.

In January, UK meat-free business Quorn Foods said it would use data from The Carbon Trust on its product labels.

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