Sensible logos

One of twelve strategies developed in the Trust Study, with the goal of helping consumers eat more healthfully and sustainably.

The Trust Study

In collaboration with EIT Food, Future of Food Institute conducted a study to gain a deeper understanding about consumer attitudes towards the food chain, and particularly the role trust plays in that relationship.

One of the outcomes of this study is a set of twelve strategies, co-created together with European participants in the Citizen Participation Forum 2020. 

One of these strategies is Sensible Logos .

What are Sensible Logos?

Many consumers feel that information about ingredients and the production of products unclear and incomplete. Often, the information is there but presented in a way that makes it difficult to use to make informed decisions.

Labels can help, but it’s often not clear what the labels stand for and how reliable they are. In addition, the increasing number of labels makes it even more difficult to judge their value.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were fewer labels and logos, and only clear and reliable labels were being used?
• Clear and easy to understand icons and symbols
• Easy to find information on how audits are carried out, including the results of (recent) audits
• Limited number of labels per product and product category

What do Sensible Logos look like?

  • Farmers need to collaborate with authorities and come to some joint decisions on which logos can be used, what they mean, and how they will be regulated.

  • Retailers, like consumers, rely on authorities to regulate logos on the wholesale products they sell. However, retailers have more power to “reward” producers who offer the most clarity.

  • Manufacturers should beware to only use those logos that are most relevant to their product, in order to not overwhelm consumers. They should not only carry the logo on their products, but also make an effort to communicate what the logos stand for, thereby clarifying their meaning.
    Communicate clearly about requirements for logos.

  • Logos are only as trustworthy as the regulations and authorities they abide by. Authorities should not allow unofficial logos with ambiguous meanings to be used as marketing tools.

What’s the catch?

For this strategy to work, the following points need to be taken into account:

Overreliance on logos

Quality marks and logos offer consumers a shortcut in their decision making process. And although valuable, it can also lead to a lowered urgency to educate oneself on certain topics. The organisations behind the certifications must continue to educate consumers.

Rising costs

The burden on the parties in the food chain shouldn’t be so high that it will lead to price increases.

What did community members say about this?

“I agree… there are far too many logos, and I have no doubt that many of them are completely irrelevant. Too often, companies use these purely as marketing tools, to try and suggest some compliance or affiliation that is of no consequence nor interest to consumers.” 
Rick, 55, Great Britain

“But does there really have to be so many? One label for everything that is Eco, Bio, Protects rain forests, does not contain pesticides or other things etc.. would be enough. We would know exactly what is what and they could give it a simple name that everyone can understand like “Responsible label” or something like that.”
Kristian, 46, France

“But some labels make it more easy, like the fair trade label, European Biolabelor Rainforest alliance label. I hope they are correctly used, cause it makes it easier for me to make better choices.” 
Eva, 33, Belgium


Best practices: who is already doing this?

Bord Bia (The Irish Food Board) 

Bord Bia is an Irish government agency whose purpose is to promote the sale of Irish food and horticultural products at home and abroad. This label guarantees that the product has been produced to high standards of food safety animal health and welfare, and care for the environment. It also proves that the product was
produced and that it can be traced back to farmer or manufacturer.

Bord Bia works with many Irish farmers and manufacturers and the logo is widely
represented in Irish supermarkets. It can be found on many different types of foods – including meats, fruits and vegetables, as well as ready-to-eat meals.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) 

PETA is a non-profit organization with a very
strong brand and a widely known mission: to end the exploitation of animals in the industries (food, fashion, entertainment).

The “PETA-Approved Vegan” logo is used to certify clothing, accessories, furniture and decorative items that are made from alternatives to materials made from animals made, such as leather or wool.
Anyone familiar with veganism knows immediately that this logo means that no animals were used in the production of the product no animals have been used.

The fact that it has been approved by PETA gives the consumer the assurance that an organization with strong moral convictions is making sure that no animals have been animals have been used in the production of this product.

Our mission is to help accelerate the transition to a more sustainable food system, by including the consumer as equally relevant stakeholder.

We offer accessible and clear consumer insights that help all actors in the food chain to effectively support & seduce the consumer to make the sustainable food choice.

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