Campaigning to improve transparency in the food and drink industry nationally, Oatly is calling for all food and drink companies to climate label all their products. In particular, they have challenged dairy companies to disclose their climate data, even going as far as offering free high-profile advertising to dairy companies who publish the climate footprint of their products.

Leading by example, Oatly doesn’t just publish its climate footprint on its packages and website, it also explains what a climate footprint is and its calculation process, in terms that most consumers can easily understand. By offering the information in an easy-to-digest format, Oatly is giving the consumer the power to make their own choice.

In fact, research has found that when given the choice and accurate information, most consumers (59%) would reduce or entirely stop the consumption of high-carbon footprint food and drink products.

The impact of consumers having access to the information to make these decisions would be major, as approximately one-third of global human-caused greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from the food system, of which 58% derive from animal-based diets.

However, until emissions data is more widely shared on packaging, it likely won’t be at the forefront of consumers’ minds, especially in the current economy where price is often the biggest deciding factor in a purchase.

Along with Oatly, there are some other companies paving the way to climate footprint transparency, for example, Hilton Hotels introduced carbon labelling onto their menus in 30 hotels across the UK. Hilton worked with sustainability experts to produce a lower carbon menu and label each dish as low, medium, or high impact based on the carbon footprint per serving.

Since launching the redeveloped menu, Hilton has found that the lower-carbon options have increased in popularity and guests have also been leaving positive feedback on the update.

With key brands in various sectors choosing to climate label, it’s probable other companies will make the same choice to remain competitive. Although, similarly to Hilton, they may choose to redevelop their offering in the first place, to ensure they’re represented sustainably, which may cause a time delay.

Given the hyperfocus on sustainability initiatives seen around the world, we’re confident we will see an increase in the number of companies carbon labelling.

It may come as a surprise that nutritional information was not given on food product labels until 1991, with suggested daily guidelines appearing over the following decade. Further guidelines were introduced in April 2022, enforcing calorie labelling in out-of-home venues.

We’d like to believe that Oatly’s campaign for industry-wide carbon labelling may be the start of the revolution, which sees all companies label their products with the climate footprint, progressing into government guidelines on the suggested daily amount.

What do you think is the future of carbon labelling? Do you expect it will become as widespread as nutritional labelling, but more importantly, should it? Let us know on social media!