The discount supermarket chain Penny will embark on a week-long experiment increasing the prices on nine commonly bought items to reflect the true environmental cost of these goods. Most of the goods chosen for the price change are meat and dairy. This experiment was suggested as a result of "the conviction among consumer researchers that price tags in supermarkets in no way reflect the true environmental or long-term health costs of producing the foodstuffs and getting them on to retailers’ shelves."
For example the price increase on “maasdamer cheese, which has risen by 94% to €4.84” consists of “hidden costs of 85 cents for climate-harming emissions such as methane and CO2, as well as 76 cents for damage to the soil from intensive farming and animal feed production, 63 cents for the effect of pesticides used, including their impact on the health of farmers, as well as 10 cents for pollution of groundwater through the use of fertiliser.”
As the researchers state it is “not yet possible to present the real cost to health and the environment for more than a select range of products. The experiment had therefore been limited to a smaller range for which it had been possible to make realistic calculation.”
It remains to be seen how these new increased prices affect consumers’ purchasing habits but it will be an interesting experiment. The supermarket chain will “donate the excess proceeds it makes from the sales, without commenting on whether it was prepared to take a knock in profits. The charity Zukunftsbauer or Future Farmer, which supports family-run farms in Alpine regions, many of which are increasingly struggling to survive amid low returns or sometimes even making losses on their produce, will be the beneficiary.”