The Carbon Neutral Digestive Initiative – Enhancing Systems (CANDIES) aims to give on-the-spot information to consumers about their food purchases, allowing them to make smarter decisions, while simultaneously working with retailers to improve product placement and incentives, aimed at buying food with lower carbon emissions.
Currently, 31% of an average Swedish household’s annual total CO2 emission comes from food. Unless Sweden tackles its food related carbon emissions, there will be a risk of failing to meet its 2045 commitment to become a net-zero emitter of greenhouse gases.
A transformative shift is therefore urgently needed, requiring the joint effort of consumers, retailers and producers – as mentioned in the recent publication from EAT (Willet et al. 2019) to:
- Consume food that emits less CO2e per kilo by moving away from a meat and dairy intensive diet towards a more locally produced, plant-based and seasonal diet; and/or
- Produce food that emits less CO2e per kilo consumed either by moving away from high emitting produce, or by innovating production processes where CO2e emissions are reduced (and increase circularity in the production chain).
CANDIES aims to assess how sustainability is embedded throughout the whole food supply chain (from farm to fork), and how digitalization can aid the decision making process.
Through dialogues with producers and government, we aim to assess the trade-offs of our intervention, and support off-setting. For our solution to succeed, we will ensure we achieve solution consensus, affordability, availability and acceptability.
Stage one of the project, CANDI, took place from April to December 2019. This phase entailed a global scan of existing apps that provide environmental, health or carbon emission information to consumers. It was found that no app provided on the spot and accessible information to consumers on how their food choices impact the environment.
Stakeholder mapping was also a part of stage one, where the CANDI team evaluated who to collaborate with and how best to provide accessible information to consumers, and how best to encourage businesses and governments to prioritize, promote and incentivize sustainable products.
Research on legislation and food policy, and sourcing the best suitable LCA database was also completed. Lastly, in phase one the CANDI team produced a draft paper on consumer preference and a draft questionnaire to guide scaling up and the development of the app, set for stage two.
Following the findings of stage one, stage two has two core aims:
- To assess how consumers wish to engage with digital information with the purpose of influencing and supporting behavior change in regards to food choices; and
- To change the food industry by improving systems, transparency and traceability in the supply chain.
By taking a behavior-centered approach CANDIES will, through choice experiments and research, examine how digital tools can be made more robust and implementable in affecting behavior change.
Stage two will also address the need for research on how firms have engaged with platforms such as Trase, Bloomberg and Global Reporting Initiative, that provide information on the global commodity supply chain. The team will interview 15 companies along the Swedish food supply chain examining the technological aspects of food traceability, how data capturing and information is standardized, and the information flow and communication of traceability information to consumers and other stakeholders.
Ahead of the UN Food Systems Summit, SEI looks at actions to transform food systems and achieve critical progress on the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
For World Food Day 2021, researchers on the CANDIES project take a closer look at consumer behaviour and sustainable food choices.