- Oatly has launched climate footprint labels on 16 of its North American products. The label, which appears on the front of the product, represents the greenhouse gas emissions through kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents (referred to as CO2e).
- In a statement to Food Dive, Oatly North America’s director of sustainability Julie Kunen said the company wanted to create a footprint label that is “simple, clear and easy to digest.” The emissions are calculated with a third-party organization, CarbonCloud, which aggregates the emissions into a numeric unit based on how much of the greenhouse gases are emitted and their global warming potential over a 100-year period.
- Climate footprint labeling is one way that food and beverage brands are aiming to inform their consumers about their carbon emissions reduction goals.
Oatly said that while there is currently no standard or mandated carbon labeling system, unlike nutrition labels, it hopes to educate consumers and sets a standard for other brands in the CPG space.
“A standardized methodology for product climate footprints doesn’t exist yet, but in the meantime, we hope this launch empowers consumers to learn more about climate footprint labeling and encourages other companies to disclose this information so that consumers are able to make informed decisions right from the grocery aisle,” said Kunen.
The oat milk maker previously rolled out carbon footprint labels on its products in the UK in 2019 — the year before oat milk became the second most popular milk alternative product after almond milk — in order to display its sustainability commitment compared to dairy milk. In a 2020 interview with Food Dive, the president of Oatly North America Mike Messersmith attributed the brand’s popularity to a heightened concern for sustainability and health among consumers during the pandemic.
Oatly said the carbon footprint calculations also serve the purpose of helping it achieve a 70% reduction in its “climate footprint” per liter of Oatly products by 2029. The first products receiving the label are its newly reformulated Oatgurt cups, it said.
While carbon labels have not yet been widely adopted for U.S. consumer products, several have expressed interest or introduced them. CPG giant Unilever said in 2021 it planned to test them in two dozen of its products in North America and Europe. As opposed to the Oatly label, their labels displayed green traffic-light style labeling, which is similar to labeling being tested in the U.K.
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