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New Areas of Food Certification

How these designations can influence shopper choices
New Areas of Food Certification
It’s critical not only to be familiar with food certifications, but also to gauge the impact that the symbols might have on customers’ physical or virtual shopping experience.

Food certifications may be the first impression your customers have of a product on your retailer’s shelves and could be a deciding factor if the item makes it into their shopping cart. Product attributes, health claims, nutrient content claims, structure/function claims and food certifications evolve with nutrition research, alongside consumer interest. Many of the newest food certifications popularizing food packages include those focused on sustainability. According to recent SPINS data, 70% of shoppers will pay more for a sustainable product, and 88% of shoppers would like brands to help them be more environmentally friendly and ethical. 

Rainforest Alliance Certified

This seal signifies that the product was made using methods that support social, economic and environmental sustainability. The Rainforest Alliance focuses primarily on protecting forests, climate, human rights and livelihoods, which is evidenced throughout the organization’s Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard.

B Corp Certification

This certification by B Lab goes beyond ingredients and products, instead speaking to a company’s entire social and environmental performance. Businesses complete a BIA (B Impact Assessment), are assessed via a Legal Requirement Tool to determine how stakeholders can affect company governance, and then evaluated by B Lab to determine whether they meet an 80-point bar for certification.

Non-GMO Project Verified

This is a third-party verification system for non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) food and products. The Non-GMO Project is a nonprofit seeking to increase transparency, education and resources about BE (bioengineered) products to support informed consumer choice.

Fair Trade Certified

Fair Trade is a global movement of responsibly connecting products to their producers. Fair Trade USA works to empower and give a stronger voice to farmers and workers, as demonstrated by its reaching more than 975,000 people in 63 countries over the past year, contributing to the $846 million in financial benefits provided to producers across the globe since 1999.

Certified Vegan

The Certified Vegan trademark of Vegan Action indicates a guarantee that an item doesn’t contain any animal product or byproduct, as well as involving no animal testing. Vegan Action has certified more than 10,000 products from 1,082 companies. Campaigns such as Veganuary, aimed at generating excitement regarding animal-free fare, are gaining momentum in the food landscape, as seen by the more than half-million participants who pledged to go vegan in January 2021, and the predicted record numbers coming in for 2022.

Certified Plant-Based

The Plant-Based Foods Association (PBFA) and NSF International put their heads together to launch the Certified Plant Based seal program in 2018, which is the first and most recognized plant-based food certification. This designation allows for up to 10% of the weight of the product formula to be non-plant-based (but still vegan). This certification, as well as Certified Vegan, is not only helpful to those following a plant-centered eating pattern, but also to flexitarians, or even those navigating a milk, egg, fish or shellfish allergy.

It’s critical not only to be familiar with these food certifications, but also to gauge the impact that these symbols might mean to your customers’ physical or virtual shopping experience. Invite your regulatory affairs team to the table with marketing and R&D to brainstorm how to obtain these certifications for private label, or encourage your store management teams to showcase trusted products that proudly display one or more of these certifications to draw attention to your retailer’s responsible product offerings. 

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