Japan is to carry carbon footprint labels on food packaging and other products in an ambitious scheme to persuade companies and consumers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. In the UK, almost all imported foods (and other goods) on supermarket shelves have been brought in by sea, with shipping carrying 92% of British trade by volume.
Transporting a product by sea produces about 1% of the carbon dioxide that would be produced by carrying the same item the same distance by air – so 100 ‘food miles’ by ship are the equivalent in CO2 output of only one food mile by air or ten by road. To compare food miles is “completely ludicrous” as a way of estimating a product’s impact on global warming, said the Chamber.
The second myth – that the majority of foodstuffs are moved by air and therefore better for the environment than locally grown produce – is illustrated by New Zealand lamb. Studies have shown that New Zealand lamb has a lower carbon footprint than lamb produced in the UK, but a major reason why this is possible is that all New Zealand lamb is brought in by ship, none by plane.