Sustainability / Environment

Environmental Impact Labelling: Opportunities For Brands & Retailers

This article is part three of the Vegconomist X ProVeg International New Food Hub article series, which aims to make actionable insights into the plant-based space more readily accessible.

Modern consumers are demanding more sustainable products and this trend is accelerating, with people increasingly viewing a plant-rich diet as a key solution. Following high-profile endorsements from the UN and IPCC, environmental impact is now the number-two reason for consumers choosing plant-based products (moving up the ranks from previous years).

“offering sustainable products alone isn’t enough – you need to communicate the benefits”

With more consumers seeking planet-friendly diets, there’s an opportunity for brands and retailers to meet this new and growing demand. But offering sustainable products alone isn’t enough – you need to communicate the benefits. 

Climate Change Sign No Planet B
© ink drop –

Globally, 85% of people have shifted towards more sustainable purchases over the past five years. Many people are including dietary reform as part of this shift. In Europe, 40% of consumers are actively reducing their consumption of animal-based products (and identifying as flexitarian, pescetarian, vegetarian, or vegan). While health remains the top driving force, environmental impact is now a close second – having climbed up the list of consumer motivations in 2021 to be the number-two reason consumers are choosing plant-based foods.

Huge opportunity for retailers

Only 49% of consumers around the world are aware that plant-based alternatives are better for the environment. “This is a fantastic opportunity for retailers and brands to meet their net-zero targets,” says  Stephanie Jaczniakowska-Mcgirr, Head of Food Industry & Retail at ProVeg International. “By raising consumer awareness of the environmental impacts of food, businesses can support consumers in choosing delicious and nutritious plant-rich diets that are better for people, animals, and our planet.”

Environmental-impact labelling is a way for brands or retailers to communicate their product’s eco credentials to consumers – typically via front-of-pack messaging. However, as you’ll see in ProVeg’s recent Whitepaper “Environmental-impact labelling: options and impacts for retailers and brands”, the methods are not yet standardised across the food sector. 

eco labels ProVeg
©ProVeg International

“It’s important we don’t repeat the mistakes of front-of-pack nutrition labelling, where several competing schemes emerged – which didn’t help consumers in their purchasing decisions,” warns Sue Davies, Head of Consumer Rights and Food Policy at consumer watchdog publication Which?.

“It’s important we don’t repeat the mistakes of front-of-pack nutrition labelling, where several competing schemes emerged”

This is tricky as there’s currently no international standard for environmental labelling. Right now, it’s up to brands and retailers to choose their preferred method.

The best thing you can do is make your label easy for consumers to understand – choose a single metric that is intuitively colour-coded. And to make it credible, use a trusted third party to certify your environmental impact or emissions claims.

Check out how key plant-based brands have harnessed the power of environmental-impact labelling options in ProVeg’s new whitepaper which outlines key case studies, best practices and current options available to brands and retailers to successfully respond to consumers shifting demand towards more sustainable products. 



Subscribe for the vegconomist-newsletter and regularly receive the most important news from the vegan business world.


Top Stories