Compass launches eco-labelling trial

Compass Group UK & Ireland is trialling a new labelling scheme across its workplace catering sites which will see dishes rated for their environmental impact.

The move follows the completion of an “ecolabelling” pilot project with researchers in the Livestock, Environment and People labelling (LEAP) group at the University of Oxford during which Compass saw positive results at 15 sites operated by its business and industry (B&I) arm Eurest.

The initiative sees dishes labelled A-E to highlight which meals have a lower or higher environmental impact based on greenhouse gas emissions, water scarcity, water pollution and biodiversity loss. Values for each product are calculated using environmental impact data and menu item ingredient information.

Data from the scheme will be shared with the LEAP researchers who are monitoring whether eco-labels nudge consumers to make more sustainable meal choices.

Compass said it had seen positive results in relation to consumer behaviour during the Eurest pilot which also saw plant-based dishes placed in more prominent positions and descriptions of dishes reviewed and renamed to make them more appealing.

The B&I culinary team has also been introducing more plant-based ingredients into meat dishes.

Encouraging a shift towards plant-based dishes is one of the ways in which Compass is planning on achieving its ambition to be net zero by 2030.

“At traditional manufacturing sites, meat and two veg dishes have been a staple of consumers’ diets for some time, yet following the introduction of these subtle changes, we are seeing an increase in customers choosing plant-forward dishes,” said Liz Forte, health and wellbeing director, business and industry at Compass Group UK & Ireland.

Forte added that the trial would inform future eco-labelling initiatives for the wider Compass business.

Professor Susan Jebb from Oxford University and a director of the LEAP project said the trial with Compass had provided an opportunity to learn more about the feasibility of changing eating habits in the workplace, and to gather evidence on a range of interventions in real world settings.

“Though we have yet to analyse all the data, the insights from Compass and the response of their customers looks promising. We look forward to seeing the final results of the trials from sites around the country over the coming months,” Jebb added.

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