It seems that folks in the UK are getting the hang of the food miles issue and many are considering how far a food item has travelled before purchasing.
Furthermore, British consumers are becoming increasingly sensitive as to how heavy a food item’s carbon footprint is, with some companies now including this information on product packaging.
This trend is creating some interesting challenges for exporters, particularly Australia where our wine products have a significant presence. According to this ABC Landline report, quoting data from the Australian Wine Makers Federation, the carbon footprint of a bottle of Australian wine sold in the UK is triple that of Californian wines, simply because of the power source. Whereas in California, many wineries have switched over to sourcing renewable energy; Australia’s wineries are still heavily reliant on coal-fired electricity generation.
It’s not just what we eat and where it comes from, it’s how it’s produced – and it’s not all bad news for food exporters. For example, lamb farmed in New Zealand was found to be produced four times more efficiently than the intensively grown UK lamb. Some Aussie wineries are lessening the carbon footprint of their products by shipping them in bulk containers and then having the bottling done in the UK. As glass bottles weigh a considerable amount, a good deal of fuel and carbon emissions are saved by approaching things this way.
Food miles are a really important issue and while it may not be possible for you to easily source locally grown food, there are some things you can do to lessen your purchasing impact; most of it is down to geographical awareness – learn more in my article on food miles and sustainability.