New front-of-pack labelling issues environmental scores

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Foundation Earth's front-of-pack labels would give food an eco score from A+ to G. Image fro demonstration purposes only
Foundation Earth's front-of-pack labels would give food an eco score from A+ to G. Image fro demonstration purposes only

Related tags Packaging & labelling

A new front-of-pack labelling system that issues environmental scores on food products is set to launch later this year, supported by manufacturers and retailers from across the industry.

The likes of Nestlé, Finnebrogue Artisan and US protein giant Tyson – as well as retailers Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and the Co-op – have teamed up with non-profit organisation Foundation Earth to launch the labelling scheme.

A pilot launch will see the manufacturers and retailers debut a traffic light style system on packaging to assess a products environmental impact by reviewing its farming, processing, packaging and transport practices.

This method assesses the food’s environmental impact through four key criteria – water usage, water pollution, biodiversity and carbon. The impacts are weighted 49% to carbon and 17% each for water usage, water pollution and biodiversity loss.

Grading system

Products are graded from A+ to G, from least impactful to the environment to most.

Lynn’s firm Finnebrogue Artisan, owner of bacon brand Naked, will be the first producer to add eco scores to its products this autumn. The pilot uses a system developed by Oxford University, with support from the World Wildlife fund.

Nestlé is supporting an intensive nine-month development programme that will combine the Oxford method with a system devised by an EU-funded consortium of Belgium’s Leuven University and Spanish research agency AZTI, to prepare the Foundation for full Europe-wide roll out in 2022.

George Eustice, UK secretary of state for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, welcomed the launch of Foundation Earth.

Sustainability challenges

“Foundation Earth’s ambitions to develop eco-labelling on food has the potential to help address the urgent challenges of sustainability and climate change,” ​he said.

“The Government continues to support the industry to become more sustainable, for instance through our funding for the Waste and Resources Action Programme and support for the Courtauld 2025 initiative, which aims to cut carbon, water and food waste in the food and drink sector.”

EIT Food chief executive Andy Zynga said the launch would bring about a credible and clear front-of-pack environmental labelling system on food products right across the continent. 

“Foundation Earth has brought together the major players from the world of science, food production and retailing and will provide consumers with the tools to drive sustainable innovation.”

Foundation Earth was the brainchild of Finnebrogue Artisan founder and chairman Denis Lynn, who passed away earlier this year after an accident involving a quadbike at his home.

Related topics Environment Packaging & Labelling

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