New research from Sodexo shows there is a growing expectation among consumers to see low-carbon options and carbon labelling on menus

As part of its commitment to ensuring 70% of its main dishes will be low carbon by 2030, Sodexo UK & Ireland is working in partnership with Eaternity to calculate the carbon footprint of its dishes and is set to add carbon labels to menus at more than 300 of its UK and Ireland sites by the end of 2024.

To better understand UK consumers’ current familiarity with carbon labelling, and attitudes towards low-carbon meals, Sodexo commissioned consumer research1, which revealed that: 

  • 60% of UK respondents said they do not recall ever having seen carbon labelling on food products or menus. 

  • One in five people (20%) said they actively seek out food products and places to eat that include carbon labelling as this makes it easier for them to manage their carbon footprint. This almost doubled to 39% among those aged 18-24. 

  • 28% agreed they would pay a higher price, within reason, for a food product or restaurant that was low-carbon or offered low-carbon options. This increased to almost half (47%) of 18-24-year-olds. 

  • More than a third (36%) said they expect restaurants and food-to-go outlets to offer low-carbon options and provide carbon labelling. While 40% said they expect food products to feature carbon labelling.

Sodexo’s chefs continue to work hard to reformulate recipes and develop new ones to create low carbon dishes and meet its target of 70% of its main dishes to be low carbon by 2030, a key lever in its SBTI-validated net zero targets. 

Charles Abraham, Food Director at Sodexo UK & Ireland said:

We are committed to helping our consumers make informed and sustainable meal choices, without compromising on taste or affordability. Our chefs relish the opportunity to use the Eaternity data to rework our traditional favourite dishes as well as adding new, exciting low-carbon options that everyone will enjoy.

Manuel Klarmann, CEO at Eaternity, added:

Eaternity is delighted to be working with Sodexo on a shared ambition to help society move towards a more sustainable food future. Trustworthy and transparent information is key to helping diners make more sustainable choices and understand the difference they can make every mealtime.  

According to WWF, global food systems account for around 30% of all greenhouse gases emitted around the world. The organisation also stated that bringing the current UK diet down to 3.12kg CO2e per person per day would deliver over half of the food emissions reductions needed by 20302.

A universally recognised definition for a low-carbon meal doesn’t currently exist, so Sodexo has conducted a review of existing research and with guidance from its technical partner, WWF, has set its own definition as one for which the production generates 0.9 kgCO2e or less.

Sodexo estimates that by 2030, its carbon savings in food services will be 100,800 tCO2e, which is the equivalent of flying around the world 8,579 times, representing a 38.24% reduction compared to its baseline figure published in 2017.

Lisa Huggins, Food Service Sustainable Diets Manager at WWF UK, added:

We are facing a triple challenge: continuing to produce the food we need while addressing the twin threats of climate change and nature loss. There is a huge opportunity for food businesses like Sodexo to help address this challenge by enabling people to make healthier, sustainable food choices.

Alongside staff training and customer education, environmental impact labelling, such as carbon footprint labelling, has the potential to raise awareness of the impacts that the meals we enjoy can have. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with Sodexo as they seek to deliver this work.

Sustainable food plays a key role in Sodexo’s journey to net zero 2040 and according to its first Sustainable Food Barometer, published earlier this year, 73% of consumers believe adopting a more sustainable way of eating is now urgent. 

Sodexo UK and Ireland commenced its net zero journey in 2010, calculating its scope 1 and 2 emissions, in partnership with WWF. In January this year, Sodexo reported that it has achieved a 37% reduction in absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across scopes 1, 2 and 3, compared to its baseline year of 2017 – putting the organisation ahead of schedule on its net zero 2040 roadmap.


The research was conducted by Savanta on 03.11.2023, with 2,278 UK adults answering questions related to carbon labelling and low carbon meals.

2 WWF Eating for net zero report


Read more about Sodexo's commitment to sustainable diets and low carbon meals


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