NSA calls for accurate and balanced information in consumer communications
17th November 2021
Misleading promotional advertising and media messages will result in misinformed food choices. Following recent media campaigns the National Sheep Association (NSA) is highlighting the risk this poses to the UK livestock sector believing further that these messages can create confusion undermining the public understanding of sustainable food production systems employed in the UK.
Recent promotional literature from Waitrose has suggested that customers can reduce their carbon footprint by eating pork rather than lamb, and Sainsburys is encouraging customers to eke out high quality British red meat by replacing it with lentils.
NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker comments: “People are being bombarded with all sorts of messaging about how diets can help combat climate change and there is no doubt that the data being used to substantiate these messages is flawed. It’s not full life cycle, it’s not holistic in its structure, and as the National Food Strategy report points out, the overseas part of the carbon footprint often isn’t taken into account. It is completely misleading not to reflect the true picture, we must be considering broader sustainability metrics.”
NSA is now calling upon leading supermarkets and stakeholders to be very clear with their commentary and bring more logic, evidence and reason to the debate. Globally livestock may contribute 14% of all greenhouse gases (GHG), however, here in the UK, GHG from livestock production totals 6%, making it one of the smallest contributors and showing that our approach to livestock production is very different to ‘world agriculture’. Transport has the highest emissions at 27%, with energy supply at 21%, business at 17%, the residential sector at 15% and all agricultural sectors at 10%.
The adoption of regenerative agriculture, which in many instances is a modern form of traditional farming practices, with rotational cropping incorporating grass breaks and a harmonic balance with nature, supports a conventional and a holistic approach to delivering a healthy planet and a healthy food system, and there are many examples of where sheep play a central role.
There are also other key areas to address, where major retailers can support a common goal, such as reducing food-waste (which globally accounts for 10% of GHG), reducing the consumption of too many hyper-processed foods and support for those suffering a lack of vital micronutrients in their diet; many of which are only available in sufficient quantities through the consumption of foods from animal origin.
Mr Stocker adds: “Ensuring food and farming plays its part in climate change through diets and farming practices is right and proper - but we absolutely need to make sure that people are making properly informed decisions with more accurate data, and we also need all our industries to play their part. Agriculture and food can be part of the solution, but it mustn’t be the scapegoat.”