Omni-label aims to compare brands’ green credentials

By Freddie Dawson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Environment

Omni-label aims to compare brands’ green credentials
A new label being piloted on chocolate could enable the sustainability of different food brands to be compared.

In the past, the development of an 'omni-label' had been held back by difficulties in comparing methodologies that track a product's environmental and social impact over its lifecycle. It is an issue that has been highlighted by the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs.

But with the new labelling approach, publicly available data will be collected from various sources to chart every sustainability issue a product raises, said Will Hodson, md of TrueCostShop, the company behind the omni-label.

Single, overall ratingfor products

The omni-label would then compare a company's corporate policies and certification to various green labelling schemes, such as Fairtrade, to generate a single overall rating for products on a sliding scale, explained Hodson. This would then be publicised on a web site or made available to the public through mobile apps used to scan foods on supermarket shelves.

While not a perfect approach, Hodson believes it would give consumers a better idea of which products were truly socially and environmentally responsible than they have at the moment.They would then be able to use the omni-label's rating to compare between similar brands.

With existing labelling schemes, this capability has not been possible. And this is a limitation which has been raised by consumer group Which? For example, there is no on-pack differentiation between a chocolate only containing Fairtrade cocoa and one made entirely from Fairtrade-sourced ingredients.

The omni-label is still at an early stage and a pilot project is planned for early summer. But whether it takes off or not, has yet to be seen. A spokesman for the Food and Drink Federation denied any knowledge of the scheme. And while Tom MacMillan, executive director of the Food Ethics Council said he was aware of the project, he said he was not sure about how it would work or of its viability.

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