This week, the federal cabinet decided to introduce mandatory state livestock labeling in Germany. The black-and-white label with a five-level classification of how an animal was kept can be clearly seen; and consumers can take this information into account when making their purchase decisions, Cem Özdemir, Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture, said during the presentation.
The new farm label consists of a rounded white rectangle with a black border, with the designation “farm” placed vertically in the left edge and which includes a five-level farm type classification: “organic”, “outdoor/free range”. range”, “fresh air barn”, “Barn+Space” and “Barn”. The five types of rearing are each preceded by a rounded rectangle, where the appropriate type of rearing is marked with a rectangle filled in black.
A QR code is also displayed in the area to the right of the housing type classification. According to the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), the QR code links to a website intended to provide comprehensive information to consumers (source).
The five team levels in the new pet brand
|let||Only the minimum statutory requirements are met.|
|barn + space||The animals get 20 percent more space.|
|fresh air stables||The stables are open on at least one side.|
|running/outdoors||The animals are allowed outside for at least eight hours a day.|
|organically||There are larger exercise areas and even more space in the barn.|
Voluntary, private livestock labeling has existed for several years. In the spring of 2019, a corresponding label, which includes a four-level classification, was introduced in the retail trade (Fig. left). Unlike the labeling now mandated by the federal government, the private sector form label also includes a color scale in addition to the respective breeding form designations for better differentiation. ALDI Nord, ALDI SÜD, EDEKA, Kaufland, LIDL, Netto Marken-Discount, PENNY and REWE use this brand. According to BMEL, the existing label managed by the private sector and the new mandatory animal husbandry label may appear side by side on packaging in the future.
Also in other European countries, similar labeling systems exist in the private sector to indicate the type of animal husbandry on the packaging. “Étiquette Bien-Être Animal” was introduced in France at the end of 2018. As with the German private sector form mark, color also serves as an additional indicator in the French mark system. A color scale is also used for what is probably the best-known food label, the Nutri-Score. In direct comparison, the labeling system now presented by the federal government appears sober and less conspicuous.
There is currently no uniform labeling system for the whole of Europe, neither a government-run nor a privately-run system. The introduction of mandatory labeling in Germany is an important first step in moving forward with the transition to future-proof animal husbandry, as stated in the BMEL press release.
Has the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) taken the trouble to look at similar labeling systems in other countries? Or any food labeling system at all? According to the design of the presented label, apparently not.
It is good that an animal husbandry labeling law (TierHaltKennzG) has been adopted and that there will be an associated mandatory labeling system. Animal welfare associations and other organizations such as the Consumer Advisory Center have been calling for this for a long time. The concept seems particularly mature, what is meant here is primarily the design, i.e. the “architecture” of the label and the associated visual system, not exactly. Since no application examples or accompanying media (website, brochure, posters) were presented, only the label, no system can be identified so far.
I assume that once the tag is implemented the QR code will link to the then central livestock tagging website if it is online. The QR code takes up about a quarter of the label’s area. Such an emphasis seems completely pointless to me. Because in such a labeling system, it is not the reference to additional information that needs to be highlighted and emphasized, but for the respective product correct posture. This is also how it is implemented in the private household brand and in the Étiquette Bien-Être Animal. Although a link to the central website is useful, displaying the domain would be perfectly sufficient as it saves space.
How convincing the visual concept is can also be seen from the fact that the term “animal husbandry” is turned upside down (!) in the far left margin. Inscribed as in a stable, the designation is easy to miss. Since the term “livestock” within perception hierarchy is clearly rooted in the first place, the designation would have to occupy more space and space accordingly. After all, as a consumer it is first and foremost important to recognize that this brand is a pet brand. However, the presented design makes it difficult for the labeling to be assigned the context of animal husbandry.
I am not complaining about the lack of formal-aesthetic quality in the label, but I am criticizing the obvious lack of a design concept and modern information design. Because crucial criteria such as readability, accessibility and scalability are not taken into account in the brand. The brand that was presented, referred to as “my livestock brand” by the Minister of Food Cem Özdemir during the presentation, basically lacks all the central functions that are systemically bound in design and that constitute good design.
Another note: My inquiry to the press office at BMEL has so far remained unanswered. If I find out who exactly is responsible for the design of the label, I will submit it later.