Suppliers call for new standards in carbon footprint measurement

With environmental policy a growing concern for UK supermarkets, food suppliers are calling for clearer standards for carbon footprint measurements.

According to a new survey, conducted by food business advisor Grant Thornton among 70 senior executives of food suppliers to UK supermarkets, just over a third (36%) of UK food suppliers have had to give account of their environmental performance when tendering for supply contracts with leading supermarkets. Nearly half (46%) have been proactively approached by the major multiples to discuss ways to make their trading greener.

Ian Carr, food and agribusiness expert at Grant Thornton, said: "Showcasing environmental credentials as part of the tendering process to win contracts to supply supermarkets is becoming more frequent and symptomatic of a substantial change that is ongoing within the grocery supply chain."

The survey revealed that 93% of the food supply industry regard environmental issues as important, but suppliers want clearer standards to be set for the correct measurement of food miles (86%) and CO2 emissions (79%).

Carr said: "It is time for the government to bring some consistency to this important area to facilitate more and more businesses joining the race to help the nation meet its CO2 reduction targets. Recycling, using fewer pesticides, improving energy efficiency by reducing CO2 and cutting food miles are all very worthwhile causes but, at present, standards can vary hugely and claims of good governance can be somewhat overstated.

"Only by taking a leading position on improving environmental standards can the UK government help to make sense of this growing market and persuade its European and global counterparts to apply similar action, which will bring consistency and facilitate the measurement of the environmental effects of a global economy,"

Currently, only 10% of suppliers measure their food miles, and 4% measure their C02 emissions. Lack of standardisation and inconsistent data were quoted as the primary reasons for failing to record measurements.

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