Carbon Labeling, Disclosures & Certifications Update
The Carbon Labeling & Certifications Update Edition (49th) of the Negative Foods Newsletter
Consumer demand will be a powerful lever to drive carbon emissions out of the food system, but this leverage won’t be effective until consumers have the knowledge to make informed choices to compare the relative carbon footprints of their food purchases.
In this edition of the Negative Foods Newsletter, I’ll provide quick updates on (a) carbon labeling; (b) carbon disclosure mandates and (c) regenerative certifications.
Carbon Labeling. Several updates on carbon labeling since I wrote a three-part carbon labeling series last July.
Christina Lampert of HowGood recently penned a terrific article answering the question: “Will Carbon-Labeled Products Sell More?” The answer is YES! Her main takeaways include that “relatively lower carbon footprints have been shown to sell more,” and that “most consumers are willing to pay more for food products that exhibit a lower carbon footprint.”
Jane Franch of Numi, and Kayalin Akens-Irby of Planet FWD both informed me that Numi, my favorite tea brand, announced their new carbon label program, partnering with Planet FWD for calculation and validation. I look forward to watching this program help Numi gain market share from their competition, and I hope we soon see other clients of Planet FWD announce similar programs in additional categories.
Julie Kunen of Oatly told me recently, regarding carbon labels on Oatly products, that, “here in North America, we've now begun that important work. It's all a part of our contribution to driving the plant-based movement forward.”
All of these developments are welcome, but we need more progress faster. I would like to see more food startups label their carbon footprints as a lever to steal market share from Big Food. This will help startups win with consumers and will spur Big Food to adopt carbon labeling as they play defense.
Carbon Disclosure Mandates. The SEC just released a blockbuster climate disclosure proposal, which is great news, as standardization in carbon reporting will be a huge step in the right direction. Here’s the POV from Alan Murray, the CEO of Fortune:
First, investors want this. A sizable minority—if not yet a majority—have made sustainability part of their investment strategies. They need good information to act on. Second, many large companies are already providing this information. Again, a sizable minority—if not yet a majority—have committed to “net zero” goals. Even if the future effects of climate change on those companies are uncertain, the costs of the climate transition implied in their net zero commitments are not. Investors deserve to know. And existing disclosures suffer from a “pick your metric” problem. They are neither “consistent, comparable nor reliable,” as the SEC correctly points out. Some standards are needed.
In addition, the California senate passed the Climate Corporate Accountability Act, which would require large companies doing business in California to annually disclose their carbon emissions.
Regenerative Certifications. I’m excited to see that more and more companies are announcing participation in the Regenerative Organic Certified program. Three additional certifications were covered at Expo West: Green America’s Soil Carbon Initiative, Savory Institute’s Land to Market program and Regenified’s Verification Program. Let me know what you think of these programs.
Extra: My friend Anthony at RSFI wants you to know that the Rebellious Consumption Hoodie is live and available for purchase until April 3rd in limited quantities. Get yours before they sell out at https://bit.ly/3inUmGE.
For Your Consideration:
AgFunder captures increasing, urgent investor demand for agrifoodtech with $60m Fund IV first close (disclosure: I’m an investor in AgFunder)
The views in this newsletter belong solely to Paul Lightfoot (and not to BrightFarms or other organizations). This newsletter accepts no advertising. Learn more about this newsletter at https://paullightfoot.substack.com/about.