Over 200 seals and logos represent some ecological, ethical, ingredient or sustainability attributes in the global food industry.
The majority of eco-labels in the food industry are for organic products, which are made according to the most sustainable form of agriculture. Organic products comprise the bulk of the estimated $75bn eco-labelled food and drink market. Most sales are from Europe and North America which have legally protected organic logos.
However, many new organic labels are being introduced in Asia, Latin America and other regions. The lack of harmonisation between these standards is leading to multiple certifications and an exponential rise in organic eco-labels.
The global fair trade movement – once united by Fairtrade International (FLO) – is also fragmenting. The departure of Fair Trade USA from the umbrella organisation and growing number of new fair trade schemes are increasing the number of fair trade logos and symbols. Although the Fair Trade mark of FLO is the most evident, it is no longer the single identification label for certified fair trade products.
Concerns about genetically engineered foods have made the Non-GMO Project Verified seal the fastest growing eco-label in the US food industry. As will be shown at the Sustainable Foods Summit, certified product sales reached $2.4bn in 2011.
Resource eco-labels are also making headway in the food industry. Many carbon labelling schemes have been introduced, whilst companies like the Raisio Group are experimenting with water footprint labels. Major challenges for such eco-labels are standardisation of methodologies and consumer communications.
Growing consumer awareness of food production methods and sustainability issues has been responsible for the rise of eco-labels in the food industry. With the number and types of eco- labels proliferating, there is a concern that food producers could be discouraged to adopt eco- labels because of the growing disparity between standards and multiple certification costs.
Source: Organic Monitor
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