Business Forum: From greenwash to greenhush?

When should and shouldn’t food businesses make environmental and health claims?

Accusations of greenwash – and related accusations about health and social claims – about food businesses are ramping up. And it is right that companies should be prepared to be held account for claims they make about their brands and products.

Anecdotally though some are saying that there is a risk that business leaders will become too risk averse and won’t be prepared to talk about green or health claims, thus potentially stifling the business cases for fairer, greener, healthier food in future. We are seeing brands move away from using terms like ‘carbon neutral’, whilst others are perhaps too freely using terms like ‘from regenerative farming’, without terms being clearly defined.

Indeed the term of ‘greenhush’ has recently been coined, which relates to deliberately underclaiming about a company’s sustainable practices. There is clearly a balance to be struck, but how can those in food and farming businesses get that balance right? What is the distinction between creating market demand for greener, healthier food by making bold claims and making legitimate, grounded, evidenced claims using accepted terms?

This in-person dinner meeting in central London will provide an opportunity for participants to:

  • Consider how to get the balance right – how to have the confidence to make grounded claims but without overclaiming and risking backlash
  • Discuss terms and claims that are currently causing food business leaders headaches, or are likely to in the future – and how to deal with them, with integrity at the core
  • Understand which terminology and claims are in line with guidance, regulation and best practice, and in what contexts
  • Explore ways to work with marketing and new product development colleagues to get them to focus on meaningful environmental and health benefits; and to hold them to account to ensure they are not making unsubstantiated claims

Speakers will be Guy Parker, Chief Executive of the Advertising Standards Authority; Sally Uren, Chief Executive of Forum for the Future; and Dominic Watkins, Partner and Global Lead, Consumer Sector, at law firm DWF.


10th October 2023
4:45 - 8:30 pm


St Luke's Community Centre
Central Street

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