Impulse lecture by Ulrike Eberle in the ZNU working group Sustainable Products on concrete recommendations for an eco-label for food products

In the context of the digital working group “Sustainable Products” of the ZNU Center for Sustainable Management at Witten/Herdecke University on January 25, Ulrike Eberle presented the expert opinion “Climate Label versus Eco-Score”. She addressed criteria for label assessment & design as well as potentials of food labelling. The expert opinion was prepared in 2021 for the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) and provides concrete recommendations for an environmental label for food.

After explaining different label types, Ulrike Eberle presented the project ‘Climate Label versus Eco-Score’, which aimed to develop a concept for an environmental label for food. An environmental label should be scientifically based on current data, meet practical requirements and provide consumers with a reliable basis for decision-making. An overview of existing environmental food labels served as a starting point. The various advantages and disadvantages of different label concepts were compared using the example of the Eco-Score and a climate label proposed by the Scientific Advisory Council on Agricultural and Food Policy. On this basis, a concept for a food label was proposed and presented at the workshop.


The goal of a food label should be to achieve the highest possible sustainability contribution in the consumption and production patterns of the food sector. The aim is to support environmentally friendly food choices and the development of an environmentally friendly eating style. To this end, transparency should be created on the supply side about the environmental effects of the company’s actions. In addition, the label should provide incentives for the environmentally compatible design of the food supply. In order to establish a label, comprehensive support by professional marketing is necessary.

In their report, corsus, Zühlsdorf + Partner and theKATALYSE Institute recommend the introduction of a multi-level environmental label for food with the following characteristics:

  • Traffic light labelling, based on established label systems such as the Nutri-Score.
  • No metric specifications, in order to avoid bogus accuracy
  • Recording of all relevant environmental impacts of food products via a generic life cycle assessment database
  • Optional specification of specific product data as an incentive for companies
  • Inclusion of existing label systems and addition of further relevant indicators to the LCA results

Ulrike Eberle thanks for the exchange of information and experience in the ZNU working group “Sustainable Products”. The ZNU network is a collaborative learning platform and now comprises around 100 members – including well-known medium-sized food manufacturers, logistics and service companies as well as scientific institutions and foundations.

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