Eco-label could potentially mislead shoppers

A new environmental label for food products has the potential to' mislead' consumers, industry leaders have said. Their warning comes after Tesco, Sainsbury's, Co-op, and Morrisons prepared to trial a new eco-label by the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) to help offer customers more transparency.

It will be tested initially in a virtual reality environment to see how different pack colors, label locations, and range sizes impact consumers' awareness and understanding of labels and impact on sales before in-store trials run in early 2023.

Backed by Defra and Wrap, the move is hoped to establish a system of measuring environmental impacts, with research commissioned by IGD on metrics including climate change, land use, water quality, and water use underpinning the scoring system.

But NFU deputy president Tom Bradshaw was concerned the initiative did not cover imported products and was unable to look beyond the UK aggregated data: "This may mislead consumers about the relative credentials of the product they are buying. It is important to consider how any proposed environmental labeling gives the right signals to the consumer and the right incentives and outcomes for the farmers."

AHDB's head of environment, Jon Foot, added the system must meet the needs of farmers, consumers, and the UK economy. "Given the complexity of environmental issues and the lack of robust data, we are concerned that some of the assessments may have to depend upon expert judgment to integrate these issues, and launching this scheme now may prove to be premature," he said.


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