Organic, Fairtrade, carbon reduction, animal welfare… there are so many issues to consider when buying food, and so many labels to look out for. So would a one-size-fits-all approach help to clear the confusion?
Do you consciously make sustainable choices when shopping? Or are other things such as price or taste of more concern?
When we researched this topic last year, people prioritised taste/quality, safety, price and healthy eating above buying sustainably. But they did agree that sustainability is important – and said they’d take it into account if it was made easier with clearer labels.
Too many labels
But if you do try to shop sustainably how straightforward do you find it? Personally, I find it a minefield. With the sustainable banner covering environmental, health, social and ethical issues it’s impossible to navigate all the food labels on the market.
I’m often torn between trying to reduce my environmental impact and supporting local producers in developing countries.
There are so many labels on the market and the message isn’t getting through about what they all stand for. Our research showed a low level of recognition and understanding of many of them.
I readily recognise the Fairtrade logo, but apart from the fact that it gives the farmer a fair price for their product I couldn’t tell you much else about its ethos.
Whereas I buy other products that I didn’t even know carried labels – such as Kingsmill bread and Walkers crisps. Both carry the Carbon Trust Carbon Reduction Label.
But even now that I’m aware of the label, it doesn’t necessarily help me. It might tell me the amount of Carbon Dioxide emitted during manufacture, but it doesn’t explain whether this is high or low. It needs to be put into context so I can make use of the information I’m given.
Would a universal label work?
When we asked what people wanted from a label, most said that they would like one universal label. They said that it’s too confusing having one for meat, another for fish and another for vegetables, for example. But is this too simplistic?
Although there is often some cross-over between logos, is it realistic to expect one label to cover everything from animal welfare to responsible use of natural resources to the interests of producers in developing countries? Or would you prefer a one-size-fits-all-approach?