Even though the controversy over the Nutriscore food labeling system is still resounding, there is already talk of a new way of measuring the environmental impact of the products that consumers buy in supermarkets.
This new measure is the Eco-score, a system developed and launched in France in January 2021, which is gradually spreading across Europe. Even though the system has not landed in Spain yet, sources from the distribution sector have acknowledged to Efeagro that it will arrive in the short to medium term to the country.
Environmental sustainability is an increasingly relevant factor within the food sector due to the growing interest that this issue arouses among consumers, as reflected by different market studies. As a result, two of the main European distribution chains are already testing this new label: Lidl in Germany and Carrefour in France.
Visually, the Eco-score is very similar to the Nutriscore: it is based on a score (from 0 to 100) that is used to assign the product being scored one of five available colors (from green to red, from most sustainable to least) and one of five letters (from A to E, also from best to worst), although as a peculiarity it uses a tree leaf as a logo.
Scoring the products
The promoters of this new method system include several entities specialized in providing information to consumers, such as Yuka, Open Food Facts, or Eco2. At the end of June, they formally registered with the European Commission a citizens' initiative aimed at collecting one million signatures so Brussels "imposes a reliable European ecological score, consisting of a label that offers consumers transparent information on the environmental impact of products."
Their aspiration is for it to be extended to all kinds of categories, but initially, it will focus on food and clothing.
The creators of this system have stated that they are open to making some modifications to the calculation system, which at the moment is based on the life cycle analysis that allows them to grade the product by computing its positive and negative points.
The method aims to cover all stages, from agricultural production to industrial transformation, including transport, packaging, etc.
The 'life cycle analysis' includes 16 evaluation headings related to the protection of air, soil, and water. A product can later gain points depending on its production system (if it is organic, for example, it gets better marks), if it is local, the environmental practices of the manufacturer, the circularity of the container, and if it affects the survival of any species.