European Commission logo

France, UK take the Cool Food Challenge

  • 10 July 2020

Food accounts for nearly a fifth of our individual carbon footprints. Although this can be lowered, doing so requires individuals to adopt more sustainable food choices – choices that most people simply don’t know about. But thanks to the Cool Food Challenge, an EU-funded initiative between the UK and France, there’s a fun, interactive way to make smart, sustainable food choices.

When combined with other people’s food commitments, we can achieve big reductions and help to slow down the rate of climate change.

Carly Leonard, CEO of PECT, Project Director

The process of getting the food from the farm to your table results in a huge carbon footprint. The good news is that there are bite-sized actions everyone can take to reduce their carbon emissions, slow down climate change, and keep the earth cool.

To help, the EU-funded Cool Food project has created an app where you can track the impact your meals have on the environment.

Mobile motivation

Cool Food was created to motivate people to make smart, sustainable choices about the food they eat. It brings together experts from the food, nutrition, and environmental sectors to provide people with information on how making even the smallest changes in our diets can help create a healthier planet.

At the heart of the Cool Food app is a counter tool that lets people commit to a low-carbon food habit, such as trying vegetarian meals, having dairy-free days, buying locally, or reducing food waste. For each commitment taken, the app provides individual carbon and financial gains over the course of a year, in real-time.

For comparison purposes, the app shows the total gains of all participants. At the end of the commitment, the user can enter a monitoring programme to receive further support from the Cool Food team.

A huge impact

The project tested the Cool Food Challenge at over 80 events in the UK and France. All users were carefully monitored to track their progress and provide support. The project team worked directly with 15 families who, together with the online platform, received lessons in healthy cooking, gardening tips, and nutrition consultations.

Following some minor tweaks, the project officially launched the app on the UK and French markets. In addition to training 16 ambassadors from both countries to help promote Cool Food, the project implemented a marketing and communication strategy to build brand identity.

After just two years on the market, Cool Food is already having a big impact. For example, its nearly 2 800 users have collectively reduced their food-related carbon emissions by an impressive 399 tonnes – two times the project’s original target. To put this in perspective, this reduction is the equivalent of nearly 400 round trip flights from Paris to New York.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Take the Cool Food Challenge” is EUR 474 193, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 379 354 through the “Interreg V-A - France-United Kingdom (Manche/Channel)” for the 2014-2020 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Support the transition to a low carbon economy in the Channel area”.