Ekobai Newsletter: Eco labels and markets (July 2014)

Jul 2014

Summary:  Frustration among sustainable brands to gain traction has been put down to the Green Gap; another account of the over-abundance of eco-labels, and moves to globally standardize GMO-free and the "living wage" issue.

The Green Gap Intention vs. Behaviour: Much is made of the so called "Green Gap" between what consumers in survey say they regards to concern on environmental issues and how they actually behave in consumption choices.  Leading ad agency Ogilvy & Mather describes in its research Mainstream Green various segments of the population in the US and China and how to reach them with sustainable marketing.   CSR consultant Brendan May has a rather more negative view and advises giving up on trying to change consumer behaviour with regards to green issues .    And another useful contribution on this subject, also from GreenBiz.

The Wild West of Eco-Labels: An informative narrative from the Guardian Sustainable Business  that points to the dizzying array of eco and organic labels attached to products.  Food have the most labels with eggs have the most standards and labels attached - " Cage-free or free-range? Free-roaming or free-farmed? Grass-fed, vegetarian-fed or whole grain-fed? Antibiotic-free, biodynamic, hormone-free, irradiated, natural, organic or pasteurised."   This zoo of green labels has not gone unnoticed by the US government - the Federal Trade Commission in 2013 reissued its Green Guides aimed at green marketing claims.

Digital Sustainability - Another Case: The power of digital media and the mobile App revolution in environmental and sustainability issues continues.  Google has partnered with UK food retailer Sainsbury's Food Rescue scheme .  Sainsbury's Food Rescue fuses mobile voice recognition technology with recipe inspiration to give users practical help and advice on using up ingredients that would otherwise be forgotten about and go to waste.  

Global Approach to GMO:  A key trend in sustainability and health related food labelling in the last few years has been the growing drive to remove genetically modified organisms from the food chain (GMO).    A global federation of 60 GMO related groups worldwide has now been formed, under the guise of the Global GMO Free Coalition, which claims to represent over 4.5 million people through its partner members.  " The Global GMO Free Coalition, with over 60 partner organizations, is the first globally coordinated network to take on the genetically modified food and crop industry head on in both the media and in public and government advocacy areas. The aim of the coalition is to cut through biotech industry propaganda and to provide independent information that leads to responsible actions from food regulatory bodies in countries worldwide."   A summary of the status of GMO labeling and legislation can be found here.

Living Wage to be part of Standards?: Living wage has been garnering global attention as wage earners in many sectors struggle to ensure their families can meet basic needs, as wage and income inequalities grow, and it becomes increasingly clear that national minimum wages are often insufficient to deliver decent standards of living or are simply not enforced.   Campaigns like Living Wage UK  are being set up to drive the issue, which also has been part of social standards like SA 8000 and ILO but not singled out in this way.   ISEAL Alliance reports  that a group of standards bodies - Fairtrade International, Sustainable Agriculture Network/Rainforest Alliance, UTZ Certified, Forest Stewardship Council, GoodWeave and Social Accountability International. are looking at how to incorporate the living wage concept into their standards.

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