72% of consumers want carbon labels on food products, according to new research among over 400 supermarket shoppers by Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, United Kingdom.

A total of 432 shoppers across all of the UK's major supermarkets were questioned on their demand for carbon labeling, their knowledge of their personal carbon footprints, whether they think climate change is an important issue when buying food, and whether current carbon labels are easily understood. Key findings:

•  83% of shoppers do not know their own personal carbon footprint, but almost three quarters of respondents said that clearer carbon labeling on food products would help them to think “green.”

•  63% of those surveyed via a questionnaire thought that carbon labels were a useful indicator for comparing environmental standards, although largely quality and taste (76%) were still deemed more important when purchasing food than environmental issues.

•  68% claimed their purchasing behavior had changed significantly in the past ten years. Consumers stated that their spending habits had shifted towards purchasing more free range (46%), more fair trade (42%), more locally sourced food (32%), and more organic and less processed food products (32%).

"Greater and clearer use of carbon labels would help even more shoppers associate the importance of climate change with food purchasing,” says Zaina Gadema, a logistics and supply chain management researcher at Newcastle Business School. Gadema completed the first stage of her study to gauge consumer perceptions on green issues when food shopping, at the end of December.