Denmark to develop state-controlled climate labelling system for food

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AUTHOR: Molly Long
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Danish shoppers will soon be able to compare their food products on the basis of how environmentally friendly they are, thanks to a new initiative set out by the country’s government.

The Denmark Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries has announced plans to spend DKK 9 million (around £1M) on a state-controlled climate labelling system for food.

Most Danes want to make more environmentally conscious food choices, according to Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Rasmus Prehn, but struggle to understand which products are the ‘green choice’. “Therefore, Denmark must now have a state-controlled climate label,” said Prehn. “It must be one unified brand that consumers can trust, so we avoid a forest of brands that just confuse.

“We can become the first country in the world to have a state-controlled climate label. We are at the forefront of the global scene, showing the way forward in the green transition.”

The government expects to have made significant headway on the labelling system by Christmas of this year and is currently establishing a working group which will lead the project.

Ultimately, the aim of the group will be to devise a label which is “unambiguous, simple and easy to understand” for consumers, according to the government. Additionally, it must be a system which retailers and the food industry will commit to using, Prehn said.

Plans for Denmark to create a climate labelling system have received approval from Danish consumer groups and retailers.

Anja Philip, Chair of Denmark’s Consumer Council thinktank, said: “From one of our new surveys, we know that three out of four consumers have difficulty perceiving the climate footprint of food. 

“Therefore, there is a need for a climate label that can help consumers make more climate-friendly choices when faced with the shopping situation. If we can get a climate label that can show the way to a more climate-friendly diet, it will be an important contribution to the green transition.”

Henrik Vinther Olesen, CSR director of Salling Group, Denmark’s largest retailer conglomerate, added: “The ambition and the long-term goal must be a climate label where the consumer can see the specific climate impact directly on the individual product. 

“We welcome the Minister’s proposal and look forward to being able to contribute with the experiences we have gained through our own experiments with climate labelling and seriously move the climate agenda.”

The development and implementation of a climate labelling system is the latest in a series of decisions made by the Danish government to tackle climate change.

Earlier this month, Prehn’s government office announced the investment of DKK 675 million (£75.5M) into a newly created Plantefonden (Plant Fund).

The aim of the fund is to further the development of plant-based foods, which the Danish government believes will help fulfil its ambitious Agricultural Agreement and tackle the climate crisis.

Last year, Denmark also incorporated CO2 emissions into its dietary guidelines for the first time, encouraging people to move away from meat consumption and towards more legumes and plants.

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