Low Synthetic Inputs Methodology

An overview of HowGood's Low Synthetic Inputs attribute methodology, for use in external communications.

Jemima Snow avatar
Written by Jemima Snow
Updated over a week ago

What does the Low Synthetic Inputs attribute measure?

Synthetic inputs are petroleum derived fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, and other synthetic chemicals commonly used in the agriculture space today, along with prophylactic antibiotics common in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). These chemicals emit many greenhouse gasses and can damage the surrounding environment when used inefficiently. HowGood’s Low Synthetic Inputs attribute recognizes products created with practices that minimize the use of these damaging inputs.

How long does a product qualify for the Low Synthetic Inputs attribute?

Products that qualify for Low Synthetic Inputs receive access to the attribute for public-facing communications for one year. At the end of the annual contract, products must be reassessed based on the current industry benchmark to re-qualify.

What does the Low Synthetic Inputs attribute mean for consumers?

The Low Synthetic Inputs attribute provides consumers with a clear indicator of how sustainable a product is with respect to the synthetic materials used in the making of the product. It’s easy-to-digest and guides consumers toward more sustainable purchases. The Low Synthetic Inputs attribute empowers shoppers to make decisions that are in line with their values and preferences. By purchasing Low Synthetic Inputs products, consumers know the product was made with fewer synthetic inputs than conventional products.

What is HowGood’s research methodology for assessing Low Synthetic Inputs?

HowGood assesses the conventional growing practices for each crop in our database of 33,000 ingredients, chemicals, and materials. Using this data, we identify commodities that can be harvested with minimal synthetic inputs. Under conventional conditions, this list is very limited. So we also assess the standards of common food certifications (such as USDA Organic and Fair for Life) and track their policies on synthetic inputs. By looking at the conventional growing conditions as well as any standards or certifications achieved by a product, we can assess which products are created with low synthetic inputs.

What data sources does HowGood use to assess Low Synthetic Inputs?

The research team at HowGood uses over 25 food certification standards as well as production guides from USDA extension services and commodity co-ops.

What is HowGood’s research methodology?

HowGood has 15 years of research on global food supply chains. The team consolidates and analyzes findings from over 550 accredited data sources and certifications. These include a range of resources such as peer reviewed Life-Cycle-Assessment studies, journal articles, academic conference proceedings and texts, aggregated commercial databases, targeted industry studies, NGO research, and government publications. HowGood is dedicated to not only employing the most industry-recognized methodologies but also ensuring that the latest scientific research is incorporated. Metrics and impact assessments are updated accordingly, on an ongoing basis, making HowGood’s platform the leading-edge tool for product sustainability. In turn, HowGood is able to provide impact assessments that are always accurate, comprehensive, and the most up-to-date. Through the HowGood platform, we are able to scale this approach across products, brands, and the entire food industry.

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