If the environmental cost of food production were factored into the price tag of products on supermarket aisles, then the prices of meat, dairy and cheese would be far higher. Now, a discount retailer in Germany is showing the “true cost” of foods as calculated by a scientific study as a part of its sustainability initiative to inform consumers of the impact of their purchases.
In a new study commissioned by Penny, a discount retailer under the Rewe Group, one of Germany’s largest retail and tourism corporations, researchers from the University of Augsburg found that meat and dairy products should be priced significantly higher when the hidden environmental cost is considered. The scientists considered factors such as greenhouse gas emissions, the impact of fertiliser use and energy consumption in the production process.
According to their calculations, minced meat should be nearly three times more expensive, while the price of cow’s milk and Gouda cheese should be doubled.
“At the moment, environmental costs are not reflected in food prices. That burden falls instead on the general public and on future generations,” Tobias Gaugler, one of the researchers of the study, told The Local.
“If supermarkets adjusted their prices, it would probably lead to a clear shift toward more plant-based and organically produced products whilst also significantly reducing the impact on the environment,” said Amelie Michalke, co-author of the research.