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par Aude Chardenon3 June 20210 commentaires

How Michel et Augustin meets consumer expectations with the Eco-Score

As a pioneer of a number of initiatives in favor of consumer transparency, the gourmet product specialist Michel et Augustin has taken an interest in the Eco-Score and has set up a PoC with ScanUp. The two partners used Alkemics' collaborative platform to facilitate the collection of information and the calculation of this score. This step toward transparency brought them some (very) pleasant surprises.

Last January, a dozen private players (ScanUp, Yuka, Marmiton, La Fourche, Seazon, FoodChéri, Frigo Magic, Etiquettable, and Open Food Facts) launched an environmental score system. Called “Eco-Score,” it is intended to help consumers, like the Nutri-Score, to choose their food products according to a new level of information. 

It takes the form of a score from A to E. But while the Nutri-Score focuses on nutritional information, the Eco-Score aims to assign a score related to its environmental impact. “We were thinking more and more about the ecological footprint of our products,” explains Axel Diverrez, Innovation & Packaging Development Engineer at Michel&Augustin. “Consumer expectations are no longer just about nutritional information.” 

The brand quickly decided to tackle this area, which is one of the 149 proposals of the French Citizens’ Climate Convention. Backed by the French government, which has launched a testing campaign on the environmental impact rating methodology, this proposal must be displayed on packaging the same way the Nutri-Score is.

Increasingly high consumer expectations 

For Michel et Augustin, consumer feedback clearly shows interest in this topic. “Our fan community is particularly demanding,” adds Axel Diverrez. “Three years ago, 0.2% of consumer feedback had to do with packaging. That number went up to 2% in 2019 and 6% last year.” While the Eco-Score takes many criteria into account, packaging is a particular focus for consumers. “This is the most visible aspect, and it’s also the most frustrating one from their point of view when it just gets thrown away,” explains Axel Diverrez. 

Faced with the rise in packaging-related concerns, the French brand identifies the arrival of the Eco-Score as an opportunity to improve the packaging but also to increase knowledge about the quality of the products and ingredients. Many criteria are taken into account.

More specifically, the method is as follows: based on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) data from ADEME* and INRAE**, it is completed by a bonus/penalty system based on the label information. It takes into account a wide range of data, from the origin of the ingredients to the ecological labels attached to production methods and the composition of packaging.

Sharing information necessary for calculation on Alkemics  

With the ScanUp application, the brand decided to set up a PoC (Proof of Concept) of data transmission based on the Alkemics platform, for about twenty products that are popular with consumers. “There is a great diversity of products at Michel&Augustin, which is appealing,” says Adrien Dumitresco, President and Co-founder of ScanUp. “This also allows us to verify that our calculation tools are working properly.” 

The objective of this PoC is to allow Michel&Augustin to share its product data on Alkemics with ScanUp (and other applications that use the Eco-Score) for it to be calculated, then the second step is to allow them to retrieve and share the Eco-Score value for each product still by using the Alkemics platform. 

After a webinar designed by the collective and preliminary communication about progress of simulating the Eco-Score, the different partners set up the data transfer to make the score appear on the application. In other words, there was a centralization and collection phase, then optimization of data, which concerns both the materials used for packaging and raw materials. “We checked that the fields were working well, then we calculated and compared the scores with our own data,” says Axel Diverrez. As for ScanUp, an API connected to Alkemics retrieves the information needed to calculate the Eco-Score according to the fields provided by the manufacturer, and the application then calculates the LCA. 

Scores go up with reliable product data!  

The result is that data is more accurate since it is provided by the brand and in some cases, this has produced welcomed surprises, such as the recently launched Michel&Augustin spread, which went from an Eco-Score of “C” to “B” (after sharing product information on Alkemics). Why is this? “Some elements of the calculations, which come from our estimates, go up when manufacturers, i.e. those who have reliable and updated data, give the origin of the ingredients, for example,” explains the ScanUp co-founder.

“We achieved an unprecedented level of transparency on the 23 best-selling products in 2021,” says Axel Diverrez. “This speaks to consumers but also to us as manufacturers. We think the scores are fair because they show that it’s not just the packaging that counts, but also the sourcing and production methods. A product containing chocolate or vanilla from Madagascar is different from a product made of 100% French-grown wheat.” For Adrien Dumitresco, this awareness from industrialists is also one of the great benefits of the initiative.

A tool for decision-making 

Besides the rating, the Eco-Score at Michel & Augustin is perceived as a real decision-making tool. “It helps us adjust and reduce our impact by favoring organic, French ingredients, and sustainable, fair-trade exotic ingredients, and therefore take a step back in the development of our products.” Improving the composition of gourmet products, sourcing certain ingredients closer to home, and finding more sustainable packaging solutions is a means to stand out from the competition. 

Other brands such as Hari&Co are also now sharing their data. “We have a lot of requests,” says Adrien Dumitresco. Brands are curious about finding out the environmental impact of what they produce, but there is still some reluctance about sharing the scores,” he adds. “The Eco-Score represents a double opportunity: to be transparent to meet a consumer expectation and to convey reliable information to increase consumer trust!” 

Interest is also measurable among retailers. Some of them have already made commitments, such as Colruyt, which displays the score for 2,500 products sold online, and La Fourche for 2,200 products sold via Click & collect. “Taking this on now will mean saving time later on,” says Axel Diverrez.

*French Environment and Energy Control Agency (Agence de l’Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l’Energie)

**National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment

Want to learn more about the Eco-Score? 

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