Nestlé and Tyson Foods have joined forces with supermarkets and scientists to launch a new non-profit organisation that will issue front-of-pack environmental scores on food products.
Foundation Earth is the ‘brainchild’ of Denis Lynn, a Northern Irish food entrepreneur and founder of Finnebrogue Artisan, who died in an accident last month.
M&S, Sainsbury’s, the Co-op and Spanish supermarket Eroski join Nestlé and Tyson as part of the Foundation’s industry advisory group. Meanwhile, the Foundation’s scientific committee – which will be chaired by professor Chris Elliott – brings together Oxford University’s Joseph Poore, Leuven University’s Christophe Matthys and Spanish research agency Azti’s Saioa Ramos.
A pilot launch will see a group of UK food producers add front-of-pack environmental scores to products this autumn, including Naked owner Finnebrogue.
Meanwhile, Nestlé is funding a nine-month research and development (R&D) programme to prepare the Foundation for full Europe-wide rollout next year.
Foundation Earth – which aims to promote more sustainable purchasing choices by consumers and more environmentally friendly innovation from food producers – brings together two systems for measuring the environmental impact of an individual food product.
This autumn’s pilot launch will use a traffic light-style system developed by Oxford University with the support of WWF, while the R&D programme will combine that method with a system devised by an EU-funded consortium of Leuven University and Azti.
According to Foundation Earth, the two systems are unique in that they allow two of the same type of product to be compared on their individual characteristics via a complete life cycle analysis, as opposed to using secondary data to estimate the environmental impact of an entire product group.
The Foundation Earth R&D programme will aim to produce an optimum and automated system for use across the UK and EU by autumn next year.
“The launch of Foundation Earth is a very significant moment for the European food industry,” said Andy Zynga, chief executive of EU-funded food innovation initiative, EIT Food.
“It is the culmination of years of work from our EIT Food consortium and from the likes of Oxford University. It will bring about a credible and clear front-of-pack environmental labelling system on food products right across the continent.”
UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice, said: “Foundation Earth’s ambitions to develop eco-labelling on food has the potential to help address the urgent challenges of sustainability and climate change.”
Johannes Weber, European affairs manager at Nestlé, added: “Foundation Earth will provide us with the opportunity to test environmental footprint methodologies, learn how different products perform and establish how consumers respond.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2021
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