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Oatly To Introduce Carbon Footprint Labeling In North America

by Rudy Sanchez on 02/01/2023 | 2 Minute Read

Many consumers are used to using nutritional labeling to make purchasing decisions. But some consumers are looking to cut out carbon emissions more than calories, and unfortunately, there are no labeling requirements or standards for climate change impact.

Oatly, makers of popular oat-based dairy alternatives, such as milk, ice cream, and yogurt, wants to help consumers make buying choices based on a product’s carbon footprint. 

In North America, Oatly has introduced new labels for its Oatgurt line of plain and fruit yogurt alternatives, including a climate footprint label. The badge communicates the carbon footprint of each product in CO2e/kg, or carbon dioxide equivalent per kilogram. The figures are based on a life cycle assessment from grower to retail validated by CarbonCloud, a software firm whose products provide food manufacturers with the carbon footprint of their goods.

The carbon footprint labeling follows similar labeling on Oatly products in Europe since 2021.

“Transforming the food industry is necessary to meet the current climate challenge. We believe providing consumers with information to understand the impact of their food choices is one way we as a company can contribute to that effort,” said Julie Kunen, director of sustainability at Oatly North America, via press release. “We’re motivated every day at Oatly to deliver products that are good for both people and the planet. We hope this next step of transparently bringing climate information to the forefront inspires other companies to do the same and helps consumers begin to recognize and learn about these indicators as they shop for their households.”

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Communicating the climate impact of a product can be tricky, as Oatly knows firsthand. 

Last year, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated and found an Oatly ad claiming its products had a 73% smaller carbon footprint than dairy milk. After receiving complaints from the public, the ASA found the ad misleading since it compared one Oatly product to whole cream dairy milk, which was not made clear in the commercial. Another ad compared the carbon output of dairy and meat production to transportation emissions. Ultimately, the ASA found Oatly was not making a fair comparison since it took the total carbon impact of dairy and meat production while only comparing the emissions of operating vehicles and transportation and not a full life cycle assessment.