Consumers are sensitive to environmental labelling

Labels of all kinds are increasingly present on food packaging. Consumers remain sensitive to an additional environmental display. This is what a study by INRAE (National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment), commissioned by ADEME (Agency for Ecological Transition) and conducted in partnership with Strategir, reveals.

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Consumers lack knowledge about the environmental impact of their food

The food system accounts for 1/3 of GHG emissions. It is therefore essential to reduce our environmental footprint through our diets. However, this transition can be tricky because meat is at the heart of meals, anchored in cultural values.

Moreover, consumers lack knowledge about the real impact of intensive livestock farming on the climate. It is therefore necessary to remedy this situation by means of an environmental labelling system that will make it possible to guide consumers’ choices in a more obvious way.

It is within this framework that the ADEME (Agency for Ecological Transition) has launched a call for projects to which the Institute of Science and Taste of the INRAE (National Institute of Research for Agriculture, Food and the Environment) has responded.

Measuring the impact of environmental display through virtual reality

INRAE (National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment) has set up a survey in 2021 with the technological support of Strategir, to measure the impact of an environmental display on consumers in different food categories.

To do this, Strategir has used a virtual reality approach to reproduce different scenarios, with and without an environmental display, in different hypermarket departments.

Implementation of an interpretative, synthetic and colorful display format

The first step for INRAE was to set up an interpretative, synthetic and colorful display format that would be affixed to the packaging while keeping all the existing information on pack.

The letter assigned to each product (A to E: green to red) was managed by INRAE through the joint use of generic public data (provided by the ADEME’s Agribalyse database) and specific private data.

An environmental display seen and understood

89% of the individuals surveyed have seen the display on at least two selected products. 96% understood what it was about.

This result shows that despite the saturation of information on packaging, consumers manage to see and understand a label dedicated to environmental impact.

Choosing products with less environmental impact

Products with a green environmental label (A or B) are significantly more chosen than those without. The share of products with a negative environmental impact (C, D or E) drops from 38% to 27%, in a realistic competitive universe and taking into account the multiplicity of product markings.

A positive impact environmental display

In a competitive environment that is often highly charged and with ultra-informative packaging, the consumer deciphers and remains alert.

This new display was part of a visual context already saturated with information. The objective was to determine if this marking was seen, understood and useful for consumers in a given competitive context.

An informative display, even if it is additional, allows the consumer to make informed choices. Consumers spontaneously move toward products with a lower environmental impact if they are informed.