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UK government to fund South Africa carbon study

Published:  23 July, 2008

Retailers and consumers are too focused on food miles, the UK's trade and development minister warned, as he announced a major investment in a joint study with South Africa's fruit-and-wine industry to measure the country's carbon footprint.

Gareth Thomas, trade and development minister, challenged the idea that exported products from the developing world would cause greater damage to the environment than exported products from developed nations. "Food miles created are only one part of the equation. This study will look at the whole cycle of production, which is the only fair way to go," he said.

The new project aims to calculate the environmental impact of South Africa's wine industry. The British Government will provide almost half of its 200,000 funding. Thomas claimed the research was "crucial to maintaining South Africa's competitive position in the global fruit-and-wine export markets in order to continue to employ local people".

Jo Mason, UK market manager for Wines of South Africa, said:? "The British Government is trying to support developing countries so they are not penalised on food miles," she said. "There's a lot of information coming out about food miles that doesn't reflect the impact on the environment. I think it's really important the right message about carbon footprint reaches the consumer."

Government-sponsored research shows nearly three-quarters of the UK public want to use their weekly shop to help the developing world. However, price is already the key consideration for 35% of wine consumers, according to the Deloitte/TNS findings.