Photo courtesy of Morrisons

Four UK supermarket chains will trial effectiveness of environmental labels

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Co-op, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco will be testing new environmental labels in a virtual setting this summer, as part of the strategic framework for a harmonized environmental labeling scheme. 

According to a statement from IGD, the trials, which will test consumer awareness and understanding of environmental labeling, are the latest stage of their workstream. They will also evaluate the impact of point-of-sale (POS) communications and how to optimize them.

Once developed, the environmental labeling scheme will provide consistent and transparent information for consumers, enabling them to make more informed choices at point of sale, based on credible data and consistent methods for environmental footprinting.

Susan Barratt, who is the CEO 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 environmental labeling supported by robust consumer insights.” 


Retailers will be testing the prototype labels on recent customers, initially in a virtual store, recreated using specialist software through an online survey, to see how they respond, before looking to implement in-store. 

Barratt also recognised that, “environmental labeling 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”, she added. 

The project has also been supported by senior industry representatives Defra and WRAP, as well as technical consultants Anthesis. 

“We have been working in close partnership with senior industry representatives, NGOs and technical experts […] to develop an environmental labeling framework; seeing this workstream now move into the trial phase is an exciting next step”, she highlighted.

The workstream is underpinned by rigorous consumer research, conducted by Walnut Unlimited, the first phase of which started in January 2022 to test and inform the labeling framework. 

Phase two of the consumer research is currently underway, to test and inform the label design, while the third phase will take place this summer through the trials themselves.

“We want to deliver positive, lasting change and look forward to assessing the results of these trials as they progress”, concluded IGD’s CEO.

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