The Swiss retail chain Coop has been labeling its own food brands with an eco-score since the end of 2022. The score is easy to record and provides information on a range of environmental factors on a scale from A+ to E-. It also includes packaging. Transparency with regard to sustainability and ecology is becoming increasingly important for advertising and marketing. This is because an increasing number of consumers want to buy sustainably – and need support to do so. If the big players in retail start introducing scores, we will get a broad effect with great momentum. Good thing. Because consumer orientation is central.
Coop has the Eco-Score determined by the Lausanne-based company Beelong. Beelong is also responsible for controlling and updating the quality, methodology and evaluation of information.
Publication in two steps
Initially only viewable via COOP’s online platform, the score is now gradually being reproduced on packaging as well. Currently, over 2,000 private label products are marked online. Coop’s goal is to evaluate and label all private label food products in the coming years.
- The scale of the score ranges from A+ for the least environmental impact to E- for the greatest environmental impact.
- According to Coop, the score is based on scientific data and information available on the food in question.
- Packaging data is also included in the score.
- Among the most important product impacts on the environment, the score used by Coop includes
- the carbon footprint,
- water consumption,
- land use,
- the packaging,
- the seasonality of the products.
- Other parameters are included in the score if they are available for a product. These include
- Any environmental labels already present,
- the origin of the ingredients,
- the distances traveled, and
- the modes of transport.
One score for everything
Coop applies the Eco-Score in an identical way to all products and always evaluates with the same scale. The product category intentionally plays no role. This procedure is intended to enable comparison of similar products with each other as well as products of different categories.
The head of Coop’s Marketing / Procurement Directorate sees the score as an ecological evaluation that is intended to serve as an uncomplicated aid and orientation for purchasing. The focus, she says, is on transparent and comprehensive information about the environmental impact of a food product. And the realization that eco issues can be communicated well.
Coop is hitting a nerve with its campaign, because more and more consumers want to live and act more sustainably. Shopping plays a prominent role in this. Retailers who can offer added value in this regard via a transparent and easy-to-use score are gathering important arguments.
Packaging is relevant.
It is logical and without alternative that packaging is included in the score. After all, it is not a solitary issue, but an indispensable component of the product – with relevance also for the eco-footprint. In terms of CO2, for example, packaging represents an emissions share of 6 to 30 percent.
When retailers start labeling their products with an Eco-Score, it’s more than an exclamation point. Actions like that of Coop achieve a broad effect and might lead to a dynamic development. An Eco-Score for products will become the norm. The packaging industry should be prepared for this.