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Carbon labels launched for restaurants and food businesses in world first for industry

Foodsteps, a food technology startup that allows businesses to easily calculate, reduce and label the environmental impact of their food, has formally launched in the UK.

The company is the first UK-based tech firm to provide carbon tracking and impact labelling to restaurants and caterers as well as food businesses. 

Founded by Cambridge University alumni Anya Doherty, the firm was created in response to the challenges facing food businesses looking to improve their sustainability and reach net zero.

Historically, food companies have lacked access to a standard database where they can easily find out the environmental impact of their recipes and ingredients. This was one reason why Tesco’s ambition to introduce carbon labelling across the food sector failed in 2012.

In response, Foodsteps has developed the first British-specific impact database for food, covering over 1,000 ingredients and incorporating carbon footprint, pollution, water use and land use impacts.

Tech for net-zero food

Developed alongside world-leading scientists and academics at Cambridge University, Foodsteps’ database provides the breakthrough knowledge that could allow for widespread carbon labelling adoption across the industry, should it be made mandatory by the UK Government.

With the database at its core, the company promises to bring a new era of technology to the food industry, disrupting how businesses evaluate and communicate sustainability to customers.

More than just a carbon labelling company, the firm offers three technology solutions to help businesses become leaders in sustainability – a cloud-based platform, labelling capability and QR code scanning.

Sustainability labelling

On the platform, food providers can upload recipes and view the sustainability impact of each ingredient. The platform can be used to monitor targets, develop new recipes and improve a menu or product’s sustainability. 

From there, companies can choose to print their own labels to clearly communicate the environmental impact of a product.

These labels provide a traffic light rating from A-E (A meaning low environmental impact, E meaning high environmental impact) and have been deemed the most effective in influencing consumer decision making.

The labels were developed following the world’s largest study into carbon labelling conducted by Cambridge University, and co-led by Foodsteps founder Anya, that tested labels on 85,000 consumers.

Food companies can also make use of Foodsteps’ virtual education tools, with each label containing a QR code that buyers can scan to learn more about the products’ impact and what the company is doing on sustainability.

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