Sustainability Insights at the Product/Ingredient Level

Last month, product sustainability database provider, HowGood, announced the expansion of a procurement model into their sustainability intelligence software offering, LatisNow. It is for global food brands and supports food CPG sourcing and sustainability teams in researching ingredient sustainability specs and identifying new, more sustainable suppliers. The Module offers the same set of ingredient-level impact analysis as the original Latis module including metrics like greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, biodiversity impact, labor risk, and animal welfare, among others. HowGood is a SaaS data platform and describes itself as the world’s largest database on food and personal care product sustainability. The database draws from over 550 independent data sources and certification and provides UPC-level impact data on over two million products — all at the individual ingredient analysis level, with more than 33,000 ingredients, chemicals and materials assessed.

Ushering in a “New Sustainable Food Design Ecosystem”

GreenBiz Groups’ Theresa Lieb has written a terrific article (adapted from 2022 “State of Green Business” report) on a new sustainable food design ecosystem based on companies “now considering the sustainability of the products themselves,” instead “of only focusing on sustainable production.” Ms. Lieb goes on to state: “This serves as an exciting environment for a new food design ecosystem of companies, technology platforms, startups and dot-connecting industry organizations.” There are software platforms emerging that provide “insights into the social and environmental footprint of each ingredient — a key first step toward uncovering better alternatives.” HowGood is named as one of these platforms along with Journey Foods, which uses AI to “provide recommendations for ingredients based on factors such as nutrition, sustainability, cost, and packaging requirements,” and Planet FWD, which helps in quickly calculating the carbon footprint of individual product or an entire company.

Is This Just the Beginning?

This area will be an interesting one to watch. It is likely that product and ingredient level sustainability insights will find its way into B2B marketplaces – both for those sustainability and non-sustainability focused. Recently, sustainable B2B marketplace provider, Novi Connect, raised $40M in new funding and launched a publicly-available ingredient screening tool that enables ingredients to be instantly vetted against complex data-dense standards to help make sustainability more accessible to SMB brands.

Companies might look into ways of making their own products and ingredients fully transparent to both B2B partners and consumers. For example, Dirt to Dinner reports that McDonald’s is creating a network on their website that will allow you to see where an ingredient or menu item comes from, “how it is treated, what the environmental impact is and so on” – all verified by their processing and farming partners. For example, a picture of the paper wrapping around its hash brown potatoes could have a short statement reading, ”Fiber-Based Food Packaging – sources through Forest Stewardship Council; Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification; SFI, CAS certified.”

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