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Project to make true cost of food visible to UK consumers

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A pioneering project launched by retailer Whole Foods Market together with organic fresh produce firm Nature & More is aiming to make the true costs of fruits and vegetables visible to UK consumers on the shop floor for the first time, according to Fresh Plaza. Nature & More argues that much of the fruits and vegetables currently available in the UK are sold far too cheaply and conceal negative environmental and social impacts. Consulting firms write hefty social impact reports for companies, but the actual hidden costs at product level are not shared with consumers (we reported earlier).

Beginning in May, pears, pineapples, oranges and lemons in supermarkets across Europe are for the first time displaying information cards that show the true price of food. In the UK, these cards are being included with organic Nature & More pears at Whole Foods.The cards, which as well as the UK are being featured in stores in Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands, show a flower whose six petals illustrate the monetary costs to the climate, water, soil, biodiversity, social cohesion and health of conventional fruits and vegetables.

In 2014, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation developed a method to calculate the hidden costs of food production. Results from the investigation were included in a table from which the costs of water use, water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, among other factors, could be calculated.

Using this method, Nature & More has calculated that the hidden climate change-linked costs of an acre of a non-organic pears in Argentina amounted to £987 per year. The hidden costs related to water pollution and soil erosion were estimated at £236 and £365 per acre respectively.


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