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IGD convenes industry on harmonized environment labelling


October 19, 2021
By Bakers Journal

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Watford, U.K. – The Institute of Grocery Distribution, known as IGD, has kicked off a new workstream on environment labelling, to mobilize food and consumer goods businesses to develop a harmonized solution that the whole sector can get behind.

The workstream’s initial focus is on creating a strategic framework for an environment labelling scheme that will provide consistent and transparent information for consumers, enabling them to make more informed choices at point of sale, said IGD, which is based in Watford, Hertfordshire, England.

“With the support of a steering group of senior industry representatives, IGD has set out to develop a recommended strategic framework for environmental labelling in the UK by the end of 2021,” Susan Barratt, chief executive officer of IGD, said. We recognise there is a growing appetite from all parts of the food system to measure and communicate the environmental impact of individual products, to drive positive change in consumption habits. We also know there is a real desire for collaboration, to champion a science-based approach to environment labelling supported by robust consumer insights.”

With its ambition to deliver positive social impact in partnership with the food and consumer goods industry, IGD already has a rich heritage in bringing industry together to tackle the issues that matter most to society. This latest workstream builds on IGD’s experience in nutritional labelling, where the organisation has previously led a joined-up industry approach to make it easier for consumers to use and understand nutrition labels and to enable them to draw comparisons between products in a consistent way. According to IGD’s survey of 1,019 shoppers done in November 2020, around eight in 10 shoppers now know that colour coding on-pack can be used to compare products or as a shortcut to make healthier choices, while the same amount again are able to correctly interpret front-of-pack nutrition labels.

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To deliver its environment labelling workstream, IGD has commissioned sustainability experts Anthesis to develop a recommended industry framework. Product footprinting experts from ERM will also provide support, while IGD will also seek input where relevant from other experts across academia, NGOs and government.

Susan added: “This agenda is moving at pace. Without a coordinated approach from the whole UK food sector, we risk confusing consumers and undermining the credibility of any labels that are being trialled. Environment labelling is a very complex area, with many unanswered questions in terms of data accessibility, governance, relevant impact indicators and scoring methodology, as well as the most effective way to visualise the information on-pack.

“To be successful, any solution needs to be pragmatic, possible for the industry to adopt at scale and able to be used by businesses both large and small. We are working closely with our steering group consulting widely through our broad industry network of technical and sustainability experts. We are also engaging with existing schemes in the UK and Europe to build on their learning as we shape our recommendations. We are aware of the need to move at speed, to deliver positive, lasting change.”

If you would like more information or if you would like to receive regular progress updates, contact sustainability@igd.com.


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