M&S, Sainsbury’s and the Co-op join the world’s biggest food company, Nestlé, protein giant, Tyson Foods, and Spanish supermarket, Eroski, in trialling a traffic-light style environmental labelling system for food products.
The Foundation Earth pilot will see a group of Europe’s leading food brands launch front-of-pack environmental scores on a range of products this September – while the world’s largest food business, Nestlé, is supporting an intensive nine-month development programme to prepare the Foundation for full Europe-wide roll out in 2022.
The UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change has warned the food industry already contributes up to 37 per cent of global greenhouse gases and that, without intervention, these are likely to increase by another 30 per cent by 2050, due to increasing demand from population growth.
Foundation Earth’s ambitions to develop eco-labelling on food has the potential to help address the urgent challenges of sustainability and climate change.
The front-of-pack score aim is to promote more sustainable buying choices from consumers and more environmentally-friendly innovation from food producers, who will be determined to secure a better score.
The pilot will launch this Autumn and will use a traffic-light style system inspired by work from Oxford University researchers and developed by life cycle assessors at Mondra.
The pilot will run in parallel to an intensive nine-month development programme, supported by Nestlé, that will combine the Mondra method with a system devised by an EU-funded consortium of Belgium’s Leuven University and Spanish research agency AZTI.
The Mondra and EIT Food systems are unique globally, in that they both allow two products of the same type to be compared on their individual merits via a complete product life cycle analysis, as opposed to simply using secondary data to estimate the environmental impact of an entire product group.
Experts say this method of individual assessment using primary data is crucial to encourage sustainable innovation in the international food supply chain, according to Foundation Earth.
The Foundation Earth R&D programme will produce an optimum and fully automated system for use across the UK and EU by Autumn 2022.
Leading food and environment scientists from across Europe have teamed up to form the Foundation’s scientific committee, which will be chaired by Professor Chris Elliott OBE, the scientist who led the British Government’s investigation into the horse meat scandal.
UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice MP, welcomed the launch of Foundation Earth.
The development of a more transparent, sustainable global food supply system is of huge importance to the health of our planet and health of all citizens. We need a system based on the core principles of integrity.
He commented: “Foundation Earth’s ambitions to develop eco-labelling on food has the potential to help address the urgent challenges of sustainability and climate change.
“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.”
Professor Chris Elliott OBE, the UK’s leading food scientist and chair of the Foundation’s scientific advisory committee, said: “The development of a more transparent, sustainable global food supply system is of huge importance to the health of our planet and health of all citizens. We need a system based on the core principles of integrity.
“I’ve been delighted to support the work of Foundation Earth to develop the sustainability label and am very proud to chair the Scientific Committee going forward.”
In a mark of the multi-national support for the Foundation, Foundation Earth is also being backed by EIT Food, the European Commission’s multi-million Euro food innovation initiative.