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‘Surge in Ethical Labeling Could Dampen Consumer Demand,’ Plus More Insight from Ecovia

Adoption rates of ethical labeling schemes continue to rise, with over a quarter of all coffee and cocoa now produced according to third party sustainability schemes, according to Ecovia Intelligence. Organic is the dominant ethical label, with sales surpassing $100 billion in 2018. However, the proliferating number of ethical labelling schemes could dampen consumer demand, said Amarjit Sahota, founder of Ecovia Intelligence, during the Sustainable Foods Summit earlier this month.

Other learnings from the summit:

  • Economic risks of climate change: Tobias Bandel from Soil & More pointed out that climate change is affecting soil fertility and crop yields. He called for farmers to reduce economic risks by building farm-system resilience via crop rotation and diversity, green manure and crops, and biomass recycling.
  • Getting a flavor for plant-based foods: The global market for plant-based foods is projected to reach $5.2 billion in 2020. Givaudan research shows that 52% of consumers stay in the plant-based category because of taste. The company calls for companies to take a targeted approach when developing products for the diverse consumer groups that now consume plant-based foods.
  • Adding social value in supply chains. Sustainability schemes like Fairtrade and UTZ Certified have improved farmer conditions, but have done little to improve poverty levels, according to Julia Gause from FairAfric. The company is “de-colonizing” supply chains for chocolate by producing in Ghana. The company says making organic chocolate in the West African country generates five times higher income for producers than sourcing cocoa alone.
  • New technologies are changing the face of retail: Toby Pickard from IGD outlined the implications of digital trends on the grocery industry. Retailers are having to adapt their physical stores and provide new delivery mechanisms. The future may be with staff-less stores (Amazon Go), drone deliveries (JD.com), and direct-to-fridge deliveries (Walmart).
  • New green packaging materials: There is growing investment in sustainable packaging materials. For example, Agrana is creating thermoplastic starch from plant sugars; the material is used to make compostable packaging for fruits and vegetables. Austrian firm VPZ is taking cellulose from wood to make PackNatur, which is used in net packaging. Futamura is also making cellulose-based biopolymers to make compostable packaging. Its NatureFlex material is now used in a range of food and beverage products.

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