7 out of 10 Belgians want to make more responsible choices… but do not know how

In an IVOX survey conducted at the beginning of May among 2.000 Belgians, Colruyt Group sounded out Belgians' environmental priorities and how aware they are of their ecological footprint. The online survey shows that a good understanding of the ecological footprint is far from obvious to the respondents. A lack of clarity seems to be the main obstacle towards a more ecologically aware life. Other important findings are that a majority of respondents believe that their supermarket should make an effort to reduce the ecological impact of its products... while also recognizing that this responsibility lies with each and every one of us. With the roll-out of the Eco-Score, Colruyt Group wants to offer a clear and understandable guide to its customers.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

With the Eco-Score, Colruyt Group wants to help Belgians to reduce their environmental impact and to, step by step, reduce and improve their own ecological footprint


The ecological footprint, a little known concept

The IVOX study clearly shows that Belgians do not know how to define the ecological footprint exactly: only 17% chose the most correct definition: "a figure that represents the amount of fertile land and water surface that is needed to produce a certain product[1]". A large number of Belgians (39%), especially in the age category up to 35 years (43%), think that it is a figure that simply represents the amount of CO2 emissions that are needed to manufacture a product. No less than 23% of the respondents say they do not know what an ecological footprint is.

The Eco-Score can be an interesting additional tool to improve the ecological awareness of consumers. The purpose of the Eco-Score is to raise awareness among Belgians, but also to let them discover what exactly is behind the labels of the (food) products they buy. The ecological footprint of a product takes into account a series of criteria at all stages in the food chain, such as: the field, cultivation, transport, transformation, distribution and waste management, etc., and also takes into account various impact categories. So it goes far beyond CO2 alone. And it is precisely all these aspects that are included in the calculation of the Eco-Score. 

7 out of 10 Belgians doubt whether their choices are responsible

Uncertainty and doubt are the main obstacles for a more ecological lifestyle, research shows. For many Belgians, doubt is an important obstacle to start living a (more) ecological life, and is even mentioned more often than financial reasons. A majority of Belgians (60%) say they would like to behave in a more ecological way, but they do not know how.

A third of Belgians (including a majority of young people) believe that they are well informed in their supermarket about how ecological products are. On the other hand, 3 in 4 Belgians (74%) find it difficult to distinguish the elements that have the most impact on the environment because there are so many of them.  This complexity is also the main reason given by a quarter of Belgians to explain why it is sometimes difficult for them to live in a (more) environmentally responsible way. The top 3 stumbling blocks according to respondents are :

  • I find it difficult to determine the most sustainable solution all the time (26%)
  • Environmentally conscious living is too expensive (23%)
  • Thinking about the environment in every small decision is just not possible (16%)

The results of this study confirm Colruyt Group's conviction that an Eco-Score can be a good guide in making better-informed choices.

Half of Belgians, especially young people, feel guilty when buying exotic products

According to the survey, half of Belgians feel guilty at times when they buy exotic fruit and vegetables. Almost one in five (17%) say that the ecological impact of the products they buy sometimes keeps them awake at night. Young people (29%) say this most often, in contrast to the over-55s (9%).

The survey indicates that 79% of Belgians believe that it is not only up to companies to offer options that are good for the environment, but that they themselves also have a responsibility to consume sustainably. Yet, as many as 4 out of 5 Belgians think it is important that their supermarket makes efforts to reduce the ecological impact of their products. And while the Dutch speakers (72%) are more inclined to say that it is a shared responsibility, the Walloons (51%) and the people of Brussels (51%) think that the government and companies are primarily responsible.

Colruyt Group is not only introducing the Eco-Score in Belgium, but also wants to actively work on reducing the ecological footprint of its own-brand food products. To this end, the retailer systematically examines the environmental impact of its own brand products by means of life cycle analyses: this enables the teams to work on improving them. Together with the suppliers, they then consider the actions to be taken to minimise the environmental impact of these products.


The Eco-Score in brief:

  • The Eco-Score is a tool to determine the environmental impact of food products.
  • Five labels from A (green) to E (red) show you the environmental footprint of a food product at a glance
  • By making the Eco-Score more accessible, Colruyt Group continues its ambition to help customers make sustainable choices and informed purchases, just as is the case with the Nutri-Score.
  • The Eco-Score is calculated according to a method developed in France by a group of independent players.
  • To calculate the Eco-Score of a product, all stages that have an impact on the food system are taken into account: the field, cultivation, transport, processing, distribution and waste management, etc.
  • For the time being, the Eco-Score is visible for some 2,500 Boni Selection products and other own brands of the group, via the SmartWithFood app and the Xtra app or on the Bio-Planet website.
  • The SmartWithFood and Xtra apps are available for free on the Google Play and AppStore platforms. All you have to do is scan the product barcode to find out the Eco-Score. 

In case of questions, please contact :

Colruyt Group Press Office:

Telephone +32 (0)473 92 45 10 (NL) // +32 473 82 27 15 (FR)

E-mail : press@colruytgroup.com


[1] EcologicalFootprint| Description,History, Importance, & Limitations | Britannica