The RISE Climate Database for food shows the climate footprint of more than 750 foods on the Swedish market. Today, five years after its inception, it is used more than ever – not only by municipalities and regions, but also by the food industry and startups.
The climate database, the only one of its kind in the Nordic countries, was originally developed to help municipalities and regions make climate-smart choices in their dietary planning.
– “Fifty municipalities and regions use the database in their day-to-day operations to provide more sustainable meals, but there is obviously a great need for and widespread interest in the database outside the public sector as well,” says Britta Florén, Senior Project Manager for sustainable food consumption at RISE and in charge of the RISE Climate Database.
Industry, the retail grocery trade and startups use the database
The database is widely used by foresighted companies and organisations, both to set climate goals and to issue climate reports about their activities. Food manufacturers use the climate database as a tool in the product development tasks.
– “The industry and the retail grocery trade are keen to help customers buy climate-smart food, which makes the climate database a useful tool for them.
- Findus Foodservices steers customers, etc., towards climate-smart recipes.
- Orkla Foods gives its Felix brand products a climate rating based on the RISE Climate Database in combination with specific manufacturer and plant data and other available information. Products with a low carbon footprint are labelled with a symbol indicating ‘low carbon footprint’.
- Swedish grocery retailer ICA uses the database to calculate the climate footprints of its grocery bags, recipes and ‘my climate goal’.
- Coop uses the climate database as important underlying data for its sustainability declaration.
- The Karolinska Institute uses the climate database in its ‘Optimat’ research project to optimise school meals by taking account of climate footprint, nutritional requirements and costs.
A number of startups have also shown great interest in the climate database for developing apps and services directly targeting consumers and private-sector restaurants.
- Klimato has developed a web app that helps restaurants calculate the climate impact of their dishes..
- FoodFighters will soon be launching a service where consumers can compare all major grocery stores.
Daniel Gillan, co-founder of FoodFighters, explains the app’s underlying idea:
– “Our primary target group comprises urban families with children. Our service makes it easier for them to reduce their climate footprint. All they have to do is fill in their shopping list. We select the most sustainable food at the best price. Imagine a Pricerunner for food with smart filters for climate, environment, ethical conditions, price and nutritional value.
Knowledge is constantly evolving
Keeping the database dynamic
The 1,500 climate footprints in the RISE climate database include the climate impact of primary production (farming, livestock farming, fishery) up to and including possible industrial processing. The database also considers country of origin, production method, etc. The database is updated every year to keep it up to date with the latest research at all times.
– “Knowledge is constantly evolving,” Britta Florén says. This is exemplified by Norway’s salmon farming industry, whose carbon footprint has ballooned in this year’s rating compared to last year. This is not necessarily because salmon have become much worse, but rather because new, more comprehensive studies have been carried out. We endeavour to maximise the quality of the data we enter in the database.
Five years have passed. What will happen over the next five years?
– “We will probably enter more environmental than climate aspects in the database, especially in terms of how food products impact biodiversity. It would also be interesting to connect this to nutrient density. One kilo of carrots does not have the same nutritional content as one kilo of meat, for example. We see many future development possibilities, but we’re pleased that the database is so useful already,” Britta Florén says.