Mat.se, in collaboration with RISE, has developed a unique climate database that has formed the basis of the largest climate-calculated store range ever, covering approximately 3000 food products. At the same time, a study shows that consumers are willing to change their purchasing behavior to reduce climate impact. "Food today accounts for about 25 percent of an average households' total carbon footprint, which is why changes in the way we consume can make a big difference," says Thomas Angervall at RISE.
The investment is unique in the world; no grocery chain has reported climate information of food on such a large scale before. Approximately 3,000 products have been labeled with a climate imprint based on life-cycle analyses that include emissions of all greenhouse gases in the production chain. A number of parameters affect the final value, such as the country of origin, the cultivation method, the processing process and transport. The climate imprint of the packaging is not included.
"Food currently accounts for around 25-30 percent of an average households' total carbon footprint, which is why changes in the way we consume can make a big difference. We want to be part of creating pioneering conditions for the Swedish food trade and the entire food sector and to also show the way internationally when it comes to working on the climate issue and the UN climate goals”, says Thomas Angervall at RISE.
Clear climate information makes it easy to choose
The information works according to the same principle as the comparative price in SEK / kg. The unit CO2e / kg (carbon dioxide equivalents / kg) is a measure of greenhouse gas emissions and shows how a kilogram of the selected food corresponds to carbon dioxide emissions. With the unit CO2e / kg it is possible to compare emissions of different strong greenhouse gases with each other or to add different climate gases to a common unit.
– "With clear CO2e information in combination with innovative solutions, we make it easy for the customer to compare the climate impact of the food. Customers who want to make conscious choices can now influence their carts climate footprint while shopping. We are incredibly proud to be the first to do so", says Karin Jelkeby, operations manager at Mat.se.
"For us at RISE, it is important that we can contribute to accelerating the reduction of climate change. A decisive factor in this work is to strengthen the development of target group-adapted visual tools that facilitate and inspire climate-smart choices at the zero moment of truth. Mat.se's applications for climate-smart alternatives, climate receipts and climate statistics are examples of tools where it becomes clear to the how one's own actions play a role", says Britta Florén, expert in life cycle analysis at RISE.
Mat.se has focused on labeling products that are purchased frequently and in large quantities. During the work on the database, tests have been done that clearly show that customers are interested and willing to take the food's climate imprint into account.
The climate database made the project possible
The RISE climate database for food has been developed for Swedish food consumption and has been the basis for the production of adapted climate figures linked to Mat.se's assortment. However, the climate impact of a particular product varies depending on when, where and how it is produced. Therefore, it is important to consider the information as an approximate measure and not as an accurate value.
"Our climate database is constantly being developed and updated. The ambition is to eventually broaden the climate database with more environmental aspects such as biodiversity and toxic effects," concludes Britta Florén.
The project has been funded by Mat.se with the support of Axfoundation, an independent, non-profit business that works in a concrete and practical way for a sustainable society, and Axfood's main owner, Axel Johnson.