Steps in the Right Direction: Understanding European Sustainability Food Labels

University essay from Blekinge Tekniska Högskola/Institutionen för strategisk hållbar utveckling; Blekinge Tekniska Högskola/Institutionen för strategisk hållbar utveckling; Blekinge Tekniska Högskola/Institutionen för strategisk hållbar utveckling

Abstract:

The challenge of feeding 9.55 billion people by 2050 is interwoven with the sustainability challenge, e.g. climate change, eutrophication, biodiversity loss, as well as social issues. These factors are affecting the ability to produce enough food for an increasing population, while the food system itself is a contributor to the declining capacities of the ecosystems. This thesis identifies Sustainability Food Labeling and Certification as one tool to promote more sustainable production and encourage conscious consumption. The complexity of the problem requires a strategic approach to strive towards sustainability. Therefore this thesis examines European Food Labels to gain understanding of the extent to which they address the sustainability challenge and how this could be improved by a Strategic Sustainable Development approach. Data was obtained through a document analysis of certification schemes and websites; and interviews with labeling bodies and platforms. The analysis revealed some weaknesses including definitions of sustainability which were found to be too general, a focus on mainly environmental sustainability, and little cooperation between labeling bodies. Using these findings, suggestions were drawn to foster a strategic approach. The recommendations call for a concrete definition of sustainability, a broader inclusion of social sustainability and greater cooperation between labels.

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