The ‘Product Environmental Footprint’ is the EU’s next step to reshaping the widely hailed Farm To Fork strategy towards a safer and more sustainable approach. It is designed to align green claims with eco-labels that encompass the nutritional, environmental, climate and social aspects of production. As consumer’s prepare to change the way they eat for the planet, the regulatory authorities are reforming and implementing stricter regulations towards the use of the term ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ on products.
The EU wishes to free the market of greenwashing foods and deems that farmers must earn a fair share of the profit from sustainably produced food.
Setting new targets:
With an aim to bolster the EU’s plans for environmentally sustainable food and farming, the PEF has proposed:
- Targets for cutting back on pesticides, fertilizers and antimicrobials in farming.
- Reflect the environmental and social costs of production in food prices.
- Simplify front-of-pack nutritional labels – for example, using a color code – to help consumers choose healthier foods.
- Regulate the marketing and advertising to children of food high in fat, sugar and salt.
While the new labeling policy is a clear blueprint to greener and fairer foods, the EU’s organic sector is set grappling with what they deem as potential challenges towards its implementation.
The Organic Food Association IFOAM organics Europe states that “the PEF per its construction inherently favors intensive rather than extensive production systems, underscores the umbrella group of organics producers.” Then there is also the prevalence of voluntary symbols of ‘mountain product,’ ‘product of island farming,’ ‘vegetarian,’ ‘gluten-free,’ ‘palm oil-free.’
Labels are intact to the brand practices and different labels support unique versions of future agri-food systems. While consumers trust and recognize the organic label as an environmentally friendly logo that respects animal welfare, they may not be fully aware of the differences between an organic product and a product that bears a good PEF score.
For instance, an organic vegetable preserve could display anything ranging from the front-of-pack nutritional labeling to a logo on the environmental performance of products, the European organic logo, the logo with a protected indication of origin, the nutritional declaration, a nutritional label or the identification of the nature of packaging material.
As more and more consumers are becoming aware of the logo, too much labeling can risk creating confusion. They believe that setting targets is not the solution as this is relevant to manufactured industrial products unlike food products. The PEF can be used to evaluate the product performance internally but should not be used as a marketing tool for the end consumers.
While the Organic eco-labelling aims to make nutrition information easy to grasp and rid the market of bogus green claims, it is set to change the way Europe eats.
Biohabit is a leading producer of organic products in the EU and firmly abides by EU regulations. We source quality foods products that are labeled with industry standards and reflect the inherent practices. With a wide range of products, it is easier to indulge in organic with Biohabit!