Shifting consumers to sustainable diets: an update from our environmental labelling team

Date : 27 February 2023

Our current food system is impacting our health and that of our planet. When asked, 73% of UK consumers considered it important to buy food with a low environmental impact, yet less than half thought they knew what a sustainable diet was.1 To provide additional information to help consumers make more sustainable food purchasing decisions, an environmental impact label could sit along-side existing front-of-pack information, including nutrition labels.

With a multitude of different voluntary schemes in development, in 2022 the UK government stated intent to develop a mandatory methodology for environmental labels. To this end IGD has been working to mobilise UK food businesses to develop a harmonised solution to environmental labelling. We are delighted to share some of the work our sustainability team are undertaking to help both consumers and businesses make informed decisions around the environmental impact of food products.

In December, our draft environmental labelling framework was published as a video recording, outlining our progress to date and summarising our draft recommendations for environmental labelling in the UK. The recommendations include the consumer-facing label, back-end methodology, data and governance for any labelling scheme.

Key takeaways from the framework:


The proposed scoring system is based on four planetary impacts:

  • climate change;
  • land use;
  • water use; and
  • water quality.

To understand more about the back-end methodology behind the label go to 06:51.

Consumer research

Our consumer research suggests that most people are open to the idea of a front-of-pack environmental label. To ensure the label has the most impact for consumers it needs to be simple to understand, but detailed enough to be able to communicate the differences in environmental impact between products. Our research highlighted the importance of differentiating the label from other labels on pack, including nutrition labels. We have since tested different prototypes of the label in virtual reality trials with multiple retailers to further develop our understanding of how consumers behave. For more on our consumer research methodology and how the label may look see 39:39.


We also considered how the scheme could be governed going forward and how it might work operationally. For more details on this see 52:04.

Looking forward

These recommendations are in draft form based on our learnings to date and will continue to be shaped by ongoing input from our stakeholders and technical experts. In 2023, IGD aims to deliver a set of recommendations to the UK Government, aligning with its intention to develop a consistent methodology for companies that want to eco-label as part of the Food Data Transparency Partnership. We look forward to updating you as this work progresses.

If you have any questions or feedback, please contact [email protected]