‘1 in 10 consumers consider carbon footprint when purchasing food’

“Preserving natural resources, conscious consumption and production and climate change are associated mostly with sustainability,” according to new Irish research, on consumers, which was released last Monday, July 29, by the European Milk Forum (EMF).

The study, conducted as part of a three-year campaign, known as “Sustainable Dairy in Europe – safeguarding our resources”, involved 2,000 consumers in Ireland, as well as 2,000 consumers in Belgium, Denmark, France and The Netherlands.

‘Essential for the dairy sector’

The study aimed to gain an understanding of consumers’ perceptions of sustainability, climate change and the challenges they pose in relation to the dairy sector.

The survey revealed:

  • One in 10 (9%) people consider their carbon footprint when purchasing food;
  • eight out of 10 (82%) believe that to preserve the planet, we need to change how we consume and produce food;
  • Six out of 10 (59%) agree that the dairy sector can help consumers eat more sustainably;
  • Nine out of 10 (92.2%) consumers believe Ireland is worthy of its world-renowned reputation for producing high-quality dairy products;
  • Four out of 10 (41.7%) consider that the dairy sector has a negative impact on climate change;
  • Three out of four (75.1%) Irish consumers stated that they are not aware of the range of measures and initiatives that Irish dairy farmers use to enhance sustainability on their farms.

Commenting on the results, Zoe Kavanagh, chief executive of the National Dairy Council, said:

“The ‘Sustainable Dairy in Europe’ project is really essential for the dairy sector.

“We have a strategic action plan in place to support farmers to continue to produce dairy products that are important in the daily diet; but, to also produce dairy in a more sustainable way using new farming practices that reduce their impact on the environment.

“It is heartening that our consumers value the Irish dairy’s outputs and the role of the Irish dairy farmer, not only to produce nutritious products, but also the contribution they make to the fabric of our rural society.”

Other findings from the Irish research:

  • Half (42.5%) of Irish consumers believe the dairy sector is economically important to Irish society;
  • Four out of five (82.9%) believe Irish dairy is produced authentically and sustainably;
  • Four out of five (84.5%) want the Irish dairy sector to continue to be successful and to support future generations.

Going further, she said: “Ireland has a world-renowned reputation in this sector, with consumers identifying our products as far superior to elsewhere in the world.

Irish dairy has one of the lowest carbon footprints internationally, primarily due to the unique grass fed, family-based Irish farming system which is extremely efficient and involves less intensive farming.

The majority of Irish people believe in climate change, but are optimistic about being able to stop some of the consequences.

Reducing food waste and the recycling of waste continue to top the list for climate conscious actions by people; but, as few as one in 10 (9%) consider carbon footprint when purchasing food.

“We have a national plan and strategy in place to help Ireland’s agri-food industry and support our farmers’ ambitions to reduce their emissions.

“We are continuing to educate the sector, on the latest innovations and science-based advice, where they can take simple and effective measures across their farms,” Zoe concluded.