UK supermarkets trial eco-footprint labels

Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and the Co-op are set to trial environmental labels in a virtual reality capacity this summer as the sector moves towards building an industry standard.

The move comes part of IGD’s workstream from the end of last year, which was supported by senior industry representatives such as DEFRA and WRAP and technical consultants Anthesis.

Initially, the core focus of the labelling scheme was to develop a strategic framework to provide consistent and transparent information for consumers.

READ MORE: Co-op shoppers reduce carbon footprint by buying 40% more local products

The push for accessible, eco-conscious labels hopes to support informed decision making at point-of-scale (POS) to drive awareness for environmental footprinting.

As a result, the summer trial aims to assess consumer understanding before initiating a full in-store launch. Thus, recent customers will be invited to shop in a virtual store through a survey which is designed through a specialist software.

“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,” IGD CEO Susan Barratt said.

“We have been working in close partnership with senior industry representatives, NGOs and technical experts over the last few months to develop an environmental labelling framework; seeing this workstream now move into the trial phase is an exciting next step.”

The workstream is also underpinned by consumer research conducted by Walnut Unlimited, where the fist phases took place in January this year.

Currently, the second phase in underway to test and inform the label design and the third place will be the virtual store trials.

Barratt added: “Environmental labelling is a very complex area, so the fact we are taking a coordinated approach to drive consensus across the whole sector, with support from leading food companies, is an incredibly important step forward.

“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 want to deliver positive, lasting change and look forward to assessing the results of these trials as they progress.”

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