Product labelling, done right, enables food manufacturers to differentiate products, build consumer trust, and improve industry transparency. However, it would be amiss not to give businesses a full overview of what you're getting into. From ensuring you have the most robust data, to establishing the best method of presenting your findings, to the pros and cons of showcasing your sustainability achievements directly to consumers, there’s a lot for businesses to weigh up. Are labels right for your business? Here’s a breakdown:
- Product labelling is voluntary. Until it’s mandatory businesses are unlikely to label their product as ‘unsustainable’. This makes it difficult to benchmark or compare against competitors.
- Current carbon labelling is confusing for consumers, especially when multiple labels and numbers are presented on the pack.
- A huge amount of resource is required to achieve meaningful and representative carbon labelling.
So what’s in it for business?
- Product labelling will become mandatory. By getting ahead of the curve you can capitalise off improved brand equity and trust.
- Labelling holds the organisation accountable and encourages your business to match or exceed performance.
- Encourages innovation and product development. Committing to eco-labelling drives innovation and optimisations in products (e.g., ingredient use, operational efficiency, energy consumption).
Key considerations to optimise product labelling:
- Define your outcomes. Be clear about what and who (e.g., B2B or B2C) you are doing this for. Sustainability labels are not widely understood by consumers but can give brands the edge with retailers when it comes to securing and maintaining listings.
- Consumer education: If you have an on-pack label, there needs to be consumer education that goes along with it. Think about how to get the message across in an easily understandable format to shoppers (Oatly do this brilliantly).
- Supplier engagement: Accurate data must be the starting point – labelling is all about trust, and that comes from robust data. Take a hybrid approach. Engage your suppliers to collect primary data (communicating the end result benefits) and fill in the rest with good data science/ modelling).