Business interest in plant-based food is growing, but numerous consumers are still in the dark over the environmental sustainability of their eating practices
There can be little doubt diets are steadily changing in the UK. Whether driven by animal welfare, health, or environmental concerns – or a combination of all three – more and more beings are either becoming vegan and vegetarian or reducing their meat consumption and feeing greater proportions of plant-based food.
Between 2008 and 2019, the average amount of meat devoured each day per person in the UK fell from merely under 104 g to a little more than 86 g, according to the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey. That breaks down into a 13.7 g drop in daily red flesh consumption and a 7g reduction in processed flesh, albeit offset slightly by a 3.2 g increase in white meat consumption over the period. But overall, it symbolizes Britons are dining over 17 g less meat per day than they only over a decade ago, a twilight of around 17 per cent.
To employed that in net-weight periods alone, we are on average eating the equivalent of around four fewer Sainsbury’s chipolatas a few weeks, according to BusinessGreen’s immediate back-of-a-sausage container calculations.
But if that is just like an fostering tend, as far as achieving the UK’s climate targets is concerned, it remains not nearly enough.
According to the recent National Food Strategy, the independent evaluate commissioned by the government, UK meat consumption needs to fall by another 30 per cent of cases by 2032, against 2019 positions, in order to help deliver a net zero emission economy. At the same time, it recommended Britons should aim to eat 30 per cent more fresh fruit and vegetables and 50 per cent more fibre.
Christina Stewart, state practices researcher at the University of Oxford, has therefore thought that the rate at which parties in the UK are reducing their meat consumption required to nearly doubled in the next 10 years. Clearly, Britain’s change in eating habits still has some highway to go, and some nudging may be needed to accelerate the pace.
Fortunately, fresh study published today by WWF UK hints the vast majority of British beings do want to eat healthier, more environmentally sustainable nutrient. The difficulty, it seems, is that they often do not know where to find it, and when they do, they do not always believe it is affordable.
The conservation charity commissioned pollster Savanta ComRes to run a examination of over 2,000 UK adults via an online panel back in April. It felt more than 70 per cent believe people should snack nutrient that is better for the environmental issues. A similar balance also said they belief all food products sold in the UK should be sustainable and not start any nature loss, while two-thirds said munching sustainable food was key to tackling climate change and reversing the destruction of nature.
Moreover, more than half of respondents to the Savanta ComRes survey claimed to be aware that the current food system had negative impacts on climate change, breath, liquid and soil pollution, and that it can drive pernicious land-use varies such as deforestation. Broad awareness of the question at bet is not limited to a small minority, but neither has it more reached an overwhelming majority.
However, if awareness of the problem is building, there are also widespread concerns over the barriers currently facing those keen to reduce the environmental impact of their nutritions. Practically two thirds of respondents said they judged feeing more sustainably was too expensive, and 68 per cent said they found it too difficult to identify environmentally sustainable foods in supermarkets. Precisely, a third of respondents said that labelling on food products was unclear, and that it too often failed to provide enough information on environmental impacts or benefits.
Just under 60 per cent of cases of respondents said the administration, producers, and distributors, all had a responsibility to improve eco messaging and naming for nutrient, while 45 per cent said that repsonsibility too expanded to supermarkets and restaurants.
“There is a clear public lust to reduce the impact of what we eat on the environment, ” said Katie White, lead of advocacy and campaigns at WWF UK. “The food we create and buy is responsible for 60 per cent of global sort loss – it needs to be much easier for us all to determine greener alternatives. Ingesting sustainably needn’t cost a luck and lots of people impelling small changes to their diet can make a big difference for our planet.”
It has been coming easier. The British market for plant-based food is already one of the largest in Europe, with some guess expecting meat-free sales to surpass PS1. 1bn in 2024, up from PS582m in 2014. Supermarket shelves has become increasingly stacked with explicitly vegan and vegetarian options, and pubs and diners can no longer get away with mushroom risotto being the sole plant-based offering on the menu.
That burgeoning market tendency was further underscored by yesterday’s announcement that Nestle is partnering with hospitality giant Whitbread to rollout plant-based ‘Garden Gourmet’ meat concoctions such as sausages and burgers to 1,200 hotels and taverns nationwide. Katya Simmons, managing board at Nestle Professional UK& Ireland, said the move was a response to growing demand for plant-based products, which she said was being driven by “two potent tends: state and concern for the planet”.
“Through our partnership with Whitbread, we can share great-tasting, meat-free alternatives with purchasers, encouraging them to make healthy, more sustained choices when chewing out of home, ” she said.
Yet despite the explosion of meat-alternative commodities and plant-based food renders now available in food aisles and on menus up and down the country, it seems barriers to uptake remain, and disorder abounds as to what constitutes an environmentally sustainable food product.
Raising consumer awareness in order to drive more sustainable food dress is therefore crucial, and there seems to be a broad belief that better produce labelling has having a potentially important role to play.
The Climate Change Committee( CCC) has repeatedly recommended the government develop “an evidence-based strategy” for driving behaviour change that can reduce consumer carbon footprints, including through measures such as target setting and more effective product labelling. And last year, the 108 members of the public drafted in to Parliament’s Climate Assembly UK to give their views on how to achieve net zero strongly backed the idea of putting labelling on meat and glass to show its carbon footprint.
Meanwhile, enterprises are themselves striving how to drive sustainable behavioural change. At COP2 6, WWF self-assured commitments from Co-op, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, M& S, and Waitrose to halve the environmental impact of UK shopping baskets by the end of 2030, as one of the purposes of which they have pledged to encourage greener diets and tackle menu and box waste.
Last month catering giant Compass Group UK& Ireland announced plans to roll out an eco-labelling trial across all of its workplace cater equipment in order to provide diners with a clearer idea of the climate, environmental and biodiversity the health effects of their eating picks. Manipulating in cooperation with the Livestock, Environment, and People( LEAP) research program at the University of Oxford, the firm plans to label dishes exerting an -AE grading system based on their environmental impact, with A awarded to nutrients with the lowest impact and E to the highest.
It follows a successful trial at 14 Compass sites, which the firm said control more diners opt for plant-based foods as a result of its eco-labelling system. “Our pilot seems to suggest that people are willing to try new things but, when it comes to plant-based, need a nudge of inspiration, ” said Liz Forte, health and wellbeing director for the business and industry sector of Compass Group UK& I. “We have identified an increase in our plant-forward auctions and the the information received from patrons has been fantastic.”
Others are already harvest the potential benefits of eco-labels, with recent experiment by the Marine Stewardship Council finding that seafood conglomerates with certified eco-labels on their concoctions investigated their market value rise by an average of $20 m within 20 periods of certification.
But implementing eco-labelling while avoiding accusations of greenwash requires a plausible evaluation system, and to truly drive behaviour change, consumers need to understand what the labels imply, which may require a degree of top-down standardisation in addition to general awareness-raising around the climate implications of our diet selections. It is a complex puzzle expecting a broad position of programs, approaches, and collaboration across business and government to put together.
Outwardly, numerous in government have reviled at any suggestion of introducing stricter measures to push parties towards greener diets, with the Prime Minister Boris Johnson repeatedly ruling out the implementation of a ‘meat tax’, despite few having called for such a measure in the first place.
But on Whitehall, more serious consideration is being given to ‘nudge’ exertions such as eco-labelling that could help push parties towards more sustainable munching habits.
“We continue to explore the evidence base for environmental labelling within food production and dumping, including the most accurate methodologies to monitor and confirm the carbon emissions, and environmental impact, of food items, ” the government’s recent Net Zero Strategy states.
It adds that the government wants to “better understand the behavioural points that need to be considered in the policies required to meet net zero”. The government’s chief scientific adviser and the Government Office for Science are expected to publish a “scenario-based foresight report to understand the system wide implications” of behavioural influences in the net zero modulation next year.
It remains to be seen whether eco-labelling for menu will catch on in the UK, bolstered by a wider lettuce behaviour change and customer awareness policy. But exhibit from the public and business alike demonstrates the desire for the purposes of the awareness-raising campaigns is certainly growing.
For more insights on green behaviour change sign up now to our free to attend virtual Net Zero Culture Summit.
Read more: businessgreen.com