LABELS: Linking Consumers and Producers Vol. 1, Number 2
LABELS: Linking Consumers and Producers - Vol. 1, Number 2 July 22, 1997
Table of Contents
- Announcing Labels: Linking Consumers and Producers
- Changing Consumer Behavior Key To Eco-Label Success
- Grown in the U.S.A.
- Child Labor Free Bill Introduced
- Pacific Northwest Spawns Salmon Safe Label
- Chiquita Looks To Be A Bunch Ahead With Eco-Label
- News Briefs
ANNOUNCING LABELS: LINKING CONSUMERS AND PRODUCERS
We are pleased to introduce the second edition of a monthly publication
from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), Labels:
Linking Consumers and Producers. The first two editions have been sent
to you via e-mail, however we will not send any further editions without
your subscription to the automated list serve (see instructions below).
Labels provides readers with relevant, up-to-date news, events and
resources related to the labeling of products for environmental, social
and regional sustainability. Labeling products with respect to the
sustainability of their production, processing and transporting is a
powerful tool for achieving more environmentally sound, economically
viable, biologically diverse, and socially just communities. IATP
encourages information exchange on the development, implementation and
impact of labeling initiatives.
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CHANGING CONSUMER BEHAVIOR KEY TO ECO-LABEL SUCCESS
A report released in mid-June by the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD) says that eco-labeling programs will
ultimately be judged successful if they are able to change consumer
behavior. The report, Eco-labeling: Actual Effects of Selected Programs,
prepared by a team of trade and environment experts, provides in-depth
analysis of the market impacts, environmental effectiveness and trade
impacts of eco-labeling programs across North America, Europe, and Asia.
Eco-labels have had only moderate success with individual consumers, but
are having greater impact on changing institutional procurement
practices. According to the report, eco-labels' influence on producers
and manufacturers is the most significant environmental impact
registered to date. In some cases, producers' desire for eco-label
certification has encouraged modification of products or production
techniques with direct improvements on the environment. Government
procurement practices utilize eco-labels under eco-label programs such
as the Canadian Environmental Choice Program and the Japanese Eco-Mark
to identify environmentally preferable products. The U.S. Green Seal
Environmental Partners program was cited as an effective tool in
institutional purchasing programs requiring eco-labeled products.
As to the market value of eco-labels, the report says that no
statistical data is available to demonstrate the market-power derived
from an eco-label, although "Producers continue to apply for and pay for
eco-labels...indicating that they have some market value." The OECD
report notes that there is no "...hard evidence of trade effects arising
from eco-labeling." When eco-labeling schemes include production-
related criteria, such as regulations on water effluents or air
emissions, "Such criteria can discriminate against imports when they
reflect exclusively the environmental conditions and preferences of the
importing country, particularly for developing countries and countries
heavily dependent on exports," the report said.
"Report says success of labeling programs based on ability to alter
consumer behavior," INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT REPORTER, June 25, 1997.
GROWN IN THE U.S.A.
The Imported Produce Labeling Act (HR 1232) was introduced in the U.S.
Congress, calling for mandatory country-of-origin labels on fresh
produce sold in U.S. grocery stores. A "clear and visible sign" would be
required to declare what country the produce originates from, under
penalty of $250 per day for non-compliance. The bill's sponsor,
Representative Sonny Bono of California, said the bill is a "common-
sense way of providing the American consumer with basic information
about the produce they may want to purchase."
Consumer's right-to-know or veiled protectionism? Supermarket owners
argue the initiative is more of the latter. The spokesperson for the
Food Marketing Institute, which represents the U.S. supermarket
industry, said "We see this as a thinly veiled effort to limit or
restrict imported produce. If you think your product is superior, market
it that way. Don't ask the government to do it." Grocery store owners
enjoy the benefits of providing customers a steady supply of produce
during the winter months by importing foreign produce. The U.S. last
year imported $1.7 billion worth of produce.
U.S. fruit and vegetable growers are wary of foreign competition: U.S.
tomato growers are particularly concerned citing increased competition
for market share with Mexican tomatoes as a result of the North American
Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Pushing hardest for the labeling is the
Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association (FFVA), which represents Florida
tomato growers. The FFVA maintains that rather than a trade barrier,
country-of-origin labeling is about consumer choice.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman voiced concern over possible
retaliation against U.S. goods in foreign markets. The bill is being
promoted as good trade policy based on the premise that the initiative
will harmonize the labeling practices of the U.S. and its major trading
partners - most of whom, proponents argue, already require country of
origin labeling on imported produce.
"Bill would mandate labels on imported food goods," AGRI NEWS, July 3,
CHILD LABOR FREE BILL INTRODUCED
Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Representative George Miller (D-
California) in April introduced the Child Labor Free Consumer
Information Act of 1997 (S. 554 and H.R. 1301), encouraging companies to
voluntarily adopt a child labor free label on product packaging.
Speaking at an International Labor Organization seminar in Geneva June
13, Sen. Harkin said the use of consumer labels is the best available
approach to combating child labor. Details around enforcement and
monitoring of "child labor free" certification are vague and seem to
depend on significant NGO participation.
Saying "We cannot divorce trade policy from social policy," Senator
Harkin said the U.S. is ready to pursue a social label initiative even
without international consensus. The ILO, arbiter of international labor
standards, has cooled its pursuit for an internationally recognized
social label after strong protests from developing nations. Developing
countries maintain that trade and labor linkage via social labeling
would act as a mask of protectionism for Western goods competing with
less costly goods from developing nations.
"Senator Harkin on the use of consumer labels to combat child labor,"
INSIDE U.S. TRADE, June 13, 1997.
PACIFIC NORTHWEST SPAWNS SALMON SAFE LABEL
The Pacific Rivers Council (PRC), a Portland, Oregon conservation group,
this spring launched its Salmon-Safe marketing campaign, offering a
seal of approval on agricultural goods produced utilizing farming
practices that keep rivers clean enough for wild salmon to spawn and
thrive. So far the initiative has enrolled a dozen regional agricultural
producers including wineries, juice processors and ricegrowers.
Salmon-safe certification is based on an operation's impact on water
quality and riparian habitat. PRC salmon-safe production guidelines
include using cover crops to minimize erosion into streams and
ecologically sound methods to control weeds and pests. Certified
producers are allowed to adhere a salmon-safe label to their products.
At present, PRC salmon-safe products are carried in about 30 retail
outlets--mostly natural and specialty foods stores--throughout Oregon
and Washington. "We're asking consumers to vote with their
dollars,"Daniel Kent, PRC marketing director said, "I think eco-labeling
is a thing of the future."
"Salmon, redwoods gain eco-labels,"SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER, June 16,
1997; "One label ag can live with:Salmon Safe," CAPITAL PRESS, May 9,
CHIQUITA LOOKS TO BE A BUNCH AHEAD WITH ECO-LABEL
Chiquita Brands Inc., is reportedly pursuing an "environmental" approach
in its quest for market share in the European Union. Cincinnati-based
Chiquita is using its Rainforest Alliance "Eco OK" certification as a
marketing tool to position its products for greater acceptance on the
European market. Chiquita received the certification-- based on limited
use of pesticides, proper chemical-use training for its workers and a
plastics recycling program -- in 1995. This past year, Chiquita began
pushing its product in Europe as the "better banana," produced in
environmentally friendly Costa Rican fields. Attuned to European
consumer's higher sensitivity to food-related environmental issues,
Chiquita's "Marketers in Europe felt they needed to have environmental
certification," according to a Chiquita spokesperson.
Another reason Chiquita may be pursuing its eco-label approach is to
counter any "green" trade barriers the European Union may try to impose
in an effort to support banana imports from African, Caribbean and
Pacific nations. Reports say efforts are underway in Europe to set aside
a quota for organically grown bananas: The EU has granted the Dutch firm
Max Havelar licensing set-asides for Havelar-certified organic bananas
from African and Caribbean countries. The EU recently issued an appeal
against a WTO ruling that its banana import regime, giving preferential
treatment to bananas imported from ACP developing countries, violates
international trade agreements. The U.S. brought the case against the EU
to the WTO on behalf of Chiquita.
"Banana company gets Eco-OK stateside, but not in Europe," EARTH TIMES
NEWS SERVICE, June 2, 1997.
A Food Marketing Institute (FMI) study reports that 52 per cent of
Americans say they are concerned about environmental issues: Although
only seven percent are committed to "environmentally sound" consumption.
According to the FMI, 23 percent of Americans are concerned about the
environment but do not consistently reflect their concern in their
purchasing decisions.THE PACKER, June 23, 1997
Asda, a U.K. supermarket chain, announced it will begin on-package
detailing of its private-label products containing genetically modified
soybeans. Asda reportedly made the decision after receiving pressure
from consumer groups, and as a proactive measure to independently
implement labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) before it
becomes mandatory in the European Union.AGNET, June 27, 1997.
The Virginia Association For Biological Farming (VABF) is developing a
"Virginia Green" label as a marketing tool for the statešs sustainable
producers. The initiative is part of the VABF consumer education and
market development program, funded by a grant from the W. Alton Jones
Foundation.SOUTHERN SUSTAINABLE FARMING, July 2, 1997.
Eco-labeling: Actual Effects of Selected Programs (see above): Available
from OECD Publications and Information Center, 2001 L St. N.W., Suite
650, Washington, D.C. 20036-4922 USA; Ph: +01/202/785/6323; Fax:
What's In A Name: Eco-Labeling In The Global Food System: Paper
presented at the Joint Meetings of Agriculture, Food, and Human Values
Society and the Association for the Study of Food and Society, held in
Madison, WI, June 5-8, 1997. By Elizabeth Barham, Department of Rural
Sociology, Cornell University. Examines the emerging clashes between
corporations and eco-labeling proponents as reflective of a larger
struggle to moderate the effects of global market liberalization on
consumers, producers and environment.
"Business-led Initiative in Environmental Management: The Next
Generation of Policy"; Saturday, July 26; Sheraton Centre Toronto
Hotel, Toronto, Ontario. This is a preconference workshop to the
American Agricultural Economics Association (AAEA) Annual Meeting.
Presentations include, "Environmental labeling of food and fiber," and
"Greening the food supply chain." Cost: $75. Contact AAEA at 515/233-
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