Europe-wide eco-label scheme set for launch in 2022 as industry joins forces to launch pilot

Foundation Earth is the brainchild of Denis Lynn, the Northern Irish food entrepreneur who died in May 2021 following a freak quadbike accident.

The UK’s M&S, Sainsbury’s and the Co-op have joined Spanish supermarket Eroski on the Foundation’s industry advisory group to “explore the potential for environmental labelling on food products and to support Foundation Earth’s ambition to help build a more sustainable food industry”​ and give consumers “clear and credible front-of-pack environmental labelling system on food products right across the continent”.

The Foundation will launch a pilot later this year in September that will use the traffic-light style system by advisory company Mondra. This pilot launch will run in parallel with an intensive nine-month development programme, supported by Nestlé, that will combine the Mondra method with another measuring system developed by the EU-funded food innovation initiative EIT Food. The hope is to combine the best of both systems to produce an optimum and fully automated system for use across the UK and EU by Autumn 2022.

Foundation Earth says it has brought together the world’s two leading systems for measuring the environmental impact of an individual food product and communicating the information clearly and simply to consumers via a front-of-pack score.

The pilot, which is a learning phase and open for development, currently assesses a food product’s impact using four key indicators — carbon, water use, water pollution and biodiversity. Carbon is weighted at 49% of the overall grade, while the other topics account for 17% each. This grade is then communicated to consumers as a letter (A to G) and a traffic light system.

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