Abstract: The success of companies in enhancing the sustainability of their products and food systems, and in measuring & communicating sustainability to consumers depends on understanding not just their own product but also consumers’ response to changing information and trends. This presentation looks at hot topics in the sustainability arena including bioengineered foods and the use of Super Labels to convey information, the topic of “greenwashing,” and metrics that arise from tools such as product life cycle assessment (LCA). Thought-provoking observations on sustainability trade-offs will be examined, and the potential benefits of cellular agriculture and other new technology trends will be explored. Attendees will gain a better understanding of their company’s opportunities to contribute to and benefit from participating in efforts to create a more sustainable food supply.
Sean B. Cash, Ph.D., Bergstrom Foundation Professor in Global Nutrition, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Facets of Sustainability: How Food Companies Can Measure and Communicate Progress to Consumers—Speaker at the 2022 Clean Label Conference
Extract from a summary article titled Communicating Corporate Sustainability Efforts of this presentation is as follows:
Thought-provoking comments on the use of “super labels” to convey sustainability information and metrics that arise from tools such as environmental life cycle assessment (E-LCA) were the basis of a presentation by Sean B. Cash, Ph.D., Bergstrom Foundation Professor in Global Nutrition at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University. The presentation, “Facets of Sustainability: How Food Companies Can Measure and Communicate Progress to Consumers,” was given at Global Food Forums’ 2022 Clean Label Conference.
Cash noted significant gaps in diet sustainability research and policy translation. Most of the attention given to these topics so far is primarily focused on human health and environmental impacts. Equally important issues, such as economic sustainability (e.g., the rising cost of food) and social sustainability (labor and livelihoods), are often overlooked. At Tufts, Cash is an investigator in the LASTING (Leading A Sustainability Transition in Nutrition Globally) program that attempts to address this. Work from that project informed much of his talk.
Cash explains that many product labels rely on third-party certification to offer sustainability assurances. There are some 455 different ecolabels globally across 25 industries, with food and beverage being the most common products with such designations (see Ecolabel Index at https://www.ecolabelindex.com). Other qualities, such as paleo, kosher, non-GMO, vegan, organic, and nut- and dairy-free, also compete with eco-messaging for consumers’ attention.