The purpose of the Carbon Neutral Digestive Initiative – Enhancing Systems (CANDIES) project is to facilitate a change in consumer and industry practice, through informed decision making and increased transparency regarding environmental impacts associated with food production and consumption.
Currently, food is responsible for 31% of the carbon footprint of an average Swedish household. Unless Sweden tackles its food related greenhouse gas emissions, there will be a risk of failing to meet its 2045 commitment to become a net-zero emitter. A transformative shift is therefore urgently needed, requiring the joint efforts of consumers, retailers and producers, as well as policy makers and other actors to produce and consume food that has a lower impact on our climate.
CANDIES will assess how environmental information is currently embedded throughout the food supply chain (from farm to fork). Through literature reviews, experiments, and interviews with consumers, retailers, producers, and other supply chain actors, we intend to understand the challenges and complexity in choices and decision-situations. We will also explore whether and how digital tools can help overcome some of the current difficulties in making more sustainable choices.
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 (CANDI), stage two has two core aims:
- Analyse to what extent consumers can and will change to a more climate friendly, sustainable diet with new digital, environmental information;
- Assess to what extent digital information that increases transparency and traceability in the food supply chain can feed into decision-making to support reduced environmental pressures.
One part of the project aims to understand the factors that influence individual behaviour related to the purchase of food, and to understand whether and how information-based, analogue and digital, interventions can shift consumers choices towards food products with lower carbon footprint.
In addition, the project will investigate the digital tools currently used by food supply chain actors to handle environmental information at product-level. Here, we aim to explore the benefits and limitations of these tools, as well as drivers and barriers toward digital tool adoption.
CANDIES will furthermore perform a case study of Urban Deli, its work with environmental sustainability and digital tools, as well as its supply chains. More specifically, the need for more research into supply chains beyond the dyadic relationship will be addressed. Urban Deli food supply chains will be investigated by examining the technological aspects of food transparency and traceability and how environmental information is systematized. Finally, it will be studied how these technologies are used to communicate environmental information with stakeholders, such as consumers and suppliers.
The CANDIES research project is conducting in-store experiments to see if and how consumers can be supported to choose food with a lower CO₂ footprint.
For World Food Day 2021, researchers on the CANDIES project take a closer look at consumer behaviour and sustainable food choices.
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.