Sustainability claims from ‘climate-friendly’ to ‘sustainably-sourced’ to ‘carbon-neutral’ to ‘regeneratively-farmed’ are starting to appear like a rash on CPG products, but if they are not underpinned by clear standards, they will lose credibility with consumers and potentially land companies in legal hot water, said Andrew Utterback, senior manager, sustainability, at Ingredion.
“It's like when the word ‘natural’ took off. Everything was natural. We don't want sustainable ag or regenerative ag to be that because then it doesn't mean anything. So we're working really hard on verifiable, measurable standards that you can point to and say yes, this has scientific rigor behind it and a third party verification behind it that means something, so it’s not just marketing and greenwashing.”
On regenerative agriculture, for example, he said, “The Sustainable Agriculture Initiative is working on a regenerative agriculture program with five principles and 10 to 20 different indicators or measurables, so there will be some sort of verifiable standard enabling you to say I’m regenerative ag verified by a third party via this SAI program and we're working on that right now, because I agree it’s very confusing right now as so many people are making claims about this.”