You can really tell that retailers are upping their game when it comes to sustainability when one of them actually launches a calculator that tells shoppers the carbon footprint of the food that they’ve bought.
S Group, which is a big name in Finland, has done just that. It’s part of the company’s S-mobiili app service Omat ostot (My Purchases) and has been developed in a deal with Natural Resources Institute Finland.
While that might seem like something of an own goal in terms of the negative impact it could have on individual products within a retailer’s business, it’s the kind of development we’re likely to see a lot more of. That’s especially the case if retailers see more sustainability-minded consumers gravitating towards their particular shops and websites as a result of such a launch.
And of course, today food, tomorrow fashion? Imagine standing in a branch of Zara and being able to tell whether that dress or pair of shoes isn’t quite as eco-friendly as it might seem.
The Finnish company claims that what it’s launching is a ground-breaking service globally and said it comes after it had seen “a clear demand for a calculator that indicates the climate impact of food”.
So how does it actually work? Well, it doesn’t account for the climate impact of individual products (“no trustworthy and comparable data about the products is yet widely available”). The calculator does, however, “indicate the magnitude of the climate impact of different product groups with sufficient accuracy, as well as their impact on your individual carbon footprint.”
For product groups where the origin of the product has a particularly strong impact on its climate effects, the origin of the best-selling products within the group has been taken into account in the estimated climate impact. That includes greenhouse vegetables, where the carbon footprint is quite big.
The calculator will continue to be developed from here as new features become available.
It’s the kind of development that will put pressure on other retailers to come up with something similar and could also have a direct impact on sales. Eco-aware consumers umming and ahing over product A or product B could be directly influenced by the knowledge that, maybe, product B is a lot kinder to the environment.
If we see that kind of result due to the launch of services like this, it puts the manufacturers and retailers on notice that time is running out for unsustainable practices. It will certainly be interesting to see how this one plays out.