“Develop a sustainability claim, they said; it will be fun they said” – IFOAM Organics Europe position paper on substantiating claims & Product Environmental Footprint (PEF)

The Farm to Fork strategy reveals that the Commission will set up an EU sustainable food labelling framework, likely as part of the highly anticipated legislative proposal on sustainable food systems. While IFOAM Organics Europe welcomes the idea of a sustainability label, what this sustainability label will look like plays a big role.

In this context, the European organic movement unveiled its position paper on substantiating claims and the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF). In this paper, IFOAM Organics Europe explains its concerns regarding the PEF as a basis for a sustainability label. Indeed, the PEF does not consider in its impact categories those externalities for which sustainable agricultural practices such as organic farming have a positive impact, such as animal welfare, soil fertility, and biodiversity to a large extent.

Also, producing a PEF score requires large amounts of data. While this may be feasible for bigger companies, it is much harder for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to collect primary data. Secondary data could be used as well, but it is not only clearly less precise, it is also particularly hard to come by for organic products.

In light of the above, and considering other concerns highlighted in the position paper, IFOAM Organics Europe concludes that “At this stage, (…) the PEF should only be used on a voluntary basis as an internal tool for companies to evaluate and compare the environmental performance of their products. The PEF may be used cautiously in B2B communication at this stage, if accompanied by other assessment tools, and if on a voluntary basis. However, the PEF should not be used for B2C communication due to (…) several shortcomings”.

For more information on the PEF and IFOAM Organics Europe’s work on the issue, please contact [email protected]. Please do note that we prioritise our members’ requests. For information about what you can gain from being a member, read our membership page and contact [email protected].

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