Nutrition articles

Transform Magazine: Is eco-labeling the solution to greenwashing? – 2021


With the arrival of a new labeling system that allows shoppers to measure the environmental impact of what they eat, Sara Jones, director of partner and customer services at Free The Birds, explains how the new system could affect the design of packaging for FMCG products. The packaging design, according to Jones, shouldn’t be treated as a flyer but rather as a beacon on a shelf that attracts customers.

Consumers are more and more aware of greenwashing practices, allowing them to play an active role in the purchase of sustainable products in supermarkets is therefore a winning tactic for brands. However, packaging cannot be their only tool in educating people about the environmental impact of the foods they buy. The on-pack design should not be treated as a flyer but rather as a beacon on a shelf that attracts customers.

Brands need to consider what is most important to consumer culture: environmental scores or nutritional value? The purchasing behavior of customers will not change with the introduction of a brand’s sustainability credentials on its packaging. Reflecting the efforts of the Fairtrade icon in a clear symbol – for global use, can allow brands to show their commitment to the environment while maintaining ease of navigation on the packaging. It could be a simple process that established brands and start-ups could implement without any immediate or critical changes in their supply chains. Foundation Earth is a great example for providing consumers with knowledge of a brand’s pursuit to be greener, but the challenge here is to create an experience that simplifies navigation while educating customers. Creating a behavior change campaign and an understandable seal of approval assures consumers that they are investing in products and businesses that strive to achieve net zero.

From a design standpoint, ensuring that the Foundation Earth symbol stands out on loaded food packaging will be a challenge, so flexibility will be needed in brand guidelines and instructions on how colors can be. used. On most FMCG products, the front of the package is cluttered with various quality labels, nutritional information and mentions. Foundation Earth has a lot to compete with while providing an information shortcut for buyer analysis.

Brands need to identify a consistent position on their packaging to help consumers effortlessly locate and decipher the information they need to make a positive, sustainable choice. A good solution for this would be the implementation of QR codes. From the NHS Track and Trace app to reading restaurant menus, consumers are fully on board with the extensive use of QR codes. There is a golden opportunity for brands to use this tool on the packaging of their products, directing customers to a dedicated web page that provides additional information to the customer making a conscious choice. The pixelation character and the eco-label can be integrated to preserve the aesthetics of the packaging. It is also a chance for brands to improve the accessibility of their products through a QR code which acts as a portal to offer insight into the chemistry of a product through various media necessary to help the hearing impaired or visually impaired. With a simple scan on their phone, consumers will be transported to the brand world and be immersed in the consideration of environmental issues and how purchasing behavior can positively change them.

Nonetheless, there is an awareness task for brands as consumers need to understand the meaning of this icon, while simultaneously informing about how brands and products contribute to the good of the planet. Making big environmental claims without any substantial proof will only alienate consumers. For example, a advertising of the herbal brand Alpro has been banned by the ASA due to fake ‘good for the planet‘Messaging. Deemed misleading according to regulators, the advertising of the alternative milk brand will have to reiterate the company’s environmental initiative in a transparent manner to avoid the loss of investment in communication.

While an eco-label similar to that of Foundation Earth will provide the seal of approval, FMCG brands seek to certify their commitment to social and environmental initiatives within their business, the work does not have to end there. In order to show their long-term impact, brands need to ensure that this is communicated across all channels, improving their chances of attracting the conscious consumer and bringing about real change.


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