Experts hope to change the way we buy our food


Food chain Booths is working with Lancaster University to research buying habits in a bid to reduce shoppers’ carbon footprints.

The retailer, which has stores in Scotforth, Torrisholme, Carnforth, Kirkby Lonsdale and Garstang, has launched a joint project with academics.

Researchers will go into the stores over the coming months and follow volunteer shoppers around the aisles to record their snacking and take-away purchases to better understand repeated food buying decisions. They will be given apps to help them make shopping lists and to keep a diary of what they are buying.

Led by the university, the project hopes to find ways to encourage consumers to shop in a greener way and think about the environmental impact of the food they put in their baskets.

Dr Adrian Friday, from Lancaster University’s School of Computing and Communications, said: “All the food we buy has a carbon cost attached.

“It’s about looking at repeated patterns of consumption over a sustained period and then thinking about how we can help people reflect on their repeated habits and the impact this is having on the environment.

“As people think about their diet from a nutritional point of view, we want them to also think about their carbon footprint.”

Food accounts for more than ten per cent of the UK’s carbon footprint and Edwin Booth, Booths’ chairman, said retailers had a responsibility to help customers shop sustainably.

He said: “From the way we design our stores, plan marketing campaigns and train staff, how we source and market products has a consequence and it’s a great pleasure to support Lancaster University in its research.”

The research is being funded by £214,455 from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Mike Berners-Lee, director of Small World Consulting, which is also involved in the project, added: “It is about finding simple ways to help people to know enough about the food they buy to sustainable shopping.”