All Collections
What's New
HowGood Research Updates
HowGood Research Updates

Updates to research methodologies and impact assessments, and how they may affect your scores.

Jemima Snow avatar
Written by Jemima Snow
Updated this week

HowGood has more than 17 years of research on global food supply chains. The team consolidates and analyzes findings from over 600 accredited data sources and certifications. These include a range of resources such as international frameworks, NGO guidance and standards reports, peer reviewed life cycle assessment studies, journal articles, academic conference proceedings and texts, aggregated commercial databases, targeted industry studies, NGO research, government publications, and news reports from reputable outlets.

HowGood employs the most industry-recognized methodologies and incorporates the latest scientific research. Metrics and impact assessments are updated on an ongoing, iterative basis, making HowGood’s platform the leading-edge tool for product sustainability. In turn, HowGood is able to provide impact assessments that are accurate, comprehensive, and the most up-to-date. Through HowGood’s sustainability intelligence platform, Latis, we are able to scale this approach across products, brands, and the entire food industry.

How are data sources and impact assessments updated?

HowGood employs an iterative approach to assessing and updating data sources and in turn, strengthening impact assessments for our customers. Our Research team is constantly reviewing the latest findings from scientific publications and assessing new data sources for inclusion in our global product sustainability database. As our database expands, our impact assessments become more granular and our customers are given instant access to the most up-to-date scientific findings on food sustainability - a process that would be costly and time-consuming for them to undertake on their own. As a result, our customers are enabled with the tools and information they need to innovate, communicate and report on food sustainability, in line with industry-recognized methodology and thinking.

We conduct updates to our global ingredient database in the following instances:

  1. Customer requests
    We partner with our customers to bring more specific data into our calculations if and when a customer can provide it. This may be in the form of data that has been collected from suppliers, commissioned or purchased. We also update impact assessments on specific ingredients by customer request. The insights that we gain from conducting this research are then made available to our broader customer base.

  2. Periodic audits of ingredients and sourcing locations
    We perform periodic audits of particular ingredients and crop origin locations and update the values for those ingredients accordingly. For GHG emissions, this process takes place by assessing individual LCAs and academic studies to find updated emissions factors for specific crops, locations and agricultural practices.

Latest Research Updates:


02/16/2024

Update to processing types for distilled ingredients

We updated the processing values and added a process specific to vinegar distillation. Distilled ingredients, including distilled malt vinegar, distilled vinegar, distilled wine vinegar and ethyl alcohol will all have updated scores.

This update affects:


02/09/2024

Update to Upstream Processing stage of the Carbon Life Cycle

We updated the Upstream Processing stage of the Carbon Life Cycle to include non-biogenic emissions from biomass-fueled ingredient processing.

This update affects:


02/09/2024

Update to emissions calculations and functional unit of the Packaging stage of the Carbon Life Cycle

We updated the Packaging stage of the Carbon Life Cycle to include emissions generated from transportation of the packaging materials. We also updated the functional unit of the Packaging stage to kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilogram of product (kg CO2e / kg), to make it consistent with all of our carbon metrics.

This update affects:


02/09/2024

Update to ingredient concentration for essential oils

Ingredient concentration values for essential oils were updated because more accurate data from supplier were provided.

This update affects:


1/30/2024

Update to GHG impact and yield measurements for elderberry and elderflower

GHG impact for elderberry and elderflower has been updated to reflect more specific processing and sourcing data.

This update affects:


1/29/2024

Update to ingredient concentration for select ingredients

The ingredient concentration for the following ingredients has been refined to more accurately reflect total impact. Most of the ingredients in this list are not frequently found in products and the overall product impact is minimal.

Ingredients affected by the update

Astragalus

Black tea extract

Blue 2

Boar

Carotene

Celery stock

Dried chervil

Dried sage

Fresh cilantro

Fresh corn

Fresh fennel

Herb extract

Hydrogenated Sunflower Seed Oil

Kohlrabi

l-phenylalanine

lovage

Mycoprotein

Nettle Leaf

Ollucus

Palm Kernel Oil

Smoked trout

Soursop

Tannier

Uncooked potato

Uncooked spot fish

Vegetable ash

Vitamin A

This update affects:


1/29/2024

Update to GHG impact measurements for rice grown in the US

GHG impact for rice grown in the US has been updated according to research from a higher quality source. This will have a minor negative effect on products that contain rice with US as the sourcing location.

This update affects:


1/27/2024

Update to emissions factors for processes that use coal and biomass fuels

Based on more recent research, we have updated the emissions factors used to measure the carbon footprint of processes that are fueled by coal and biomass. Examples include calcination processing, pickles manufacturing, and cardboard packaging.

This update affects:


1/17/2023

Update to land use change for dill sourced from the EU

Based on the latest industry data, we have updated the emissions associated with land use change for dill grown in the EU region.

This update affects:


1/8/2024

Update to impact measurement for coffee ingredients

Based on more recent research, we have updated the ingredient concentrations and processing types for coffee-derived ingredients.

This update affects:


12/20/2023

Update to emissions factors for natural flavors

Based on the latest industry data, we have updated the ingredient concentration and emissions factors of natural flavor ingredients in the database.

This update affects:


12/11/2023

Update to ingredient concentration for coffee concentrate

The ingredient concentration value and processing type for coffee concentrate have been updated to reflect the latest research and further differentiate this ingredient from other coffee-based flavors.

This update affects:


12/1/2023

Update to Alkaline Tricalcium Citrate Processing Types

The energy required for alkaline tricalcium citrate has been updated to reflect the latest research. Because most of the energy comes from natural gas and electricity, more recent processing data is material to more accurately assessing.

This update affects:


11/27/2023

Update to Land Use Change for Ivory Coast

The Land Use Change value for cacao products from the Ivory Coast have been updated to more accurately reflect associated land use change.

This update affects:


11/15/2023

Update to Carbon Footprint (Cradle-to-manufacturing gate)

Carbon Footprint (Cradle-to-manufacturing gate) has been updated to include GHG emissions associated with land use change and carbon removals. Read more about the Land Use Change metric.

This update affects:


11/13/2023

Update to petro derived ingredients

Synthetic ingredients have historically been linked to a generic origin for petro. Our Research team has reviewed all ingredients with the petro origin and updated according to the specific petro-derived chemical (ie. benzene, ethylene). This update generally has minimal impact on products but may be higher depending on the composition of the product (ie. categories with more synthetic ingredients).


11/09/2023

Update to ingredient concentrations for powders and concentrates

The ingredient concentration for powders and concentrates were audited and updated. This update has minimal impact on products because these ingredients typically comprise a small percentage of the total product.

This update affects:


11/09/2023

Updated On-farm (Land Management) GHGs for Irish Dairy

The GHGs for dairy from Ireland have been updated according to new scientific research.

This update affects:


10/16/2023

Updated Manufacturing Energies for Plant Based Cheeses

Our research team reviewed the energy required to manufacture plant-based cheese, and adjusted the values to give a more precise estimate of GHG emissions during the manufacturing stage.

This update affects:


10/09/2023

Update to Land Use metric

The “Land Use” metric has been re-named “Land Occupation”, in order to better align with the GHG Protocol terminology. The metric’s units have also been changed from m2/mt to ha/mt (hectares per metric ton of ingredient or product produced).

This update affects:


09/11/2023

Update to fuel types for the Manufacturing stage of the Carbon Life Cycle

Our research team has made improvements to provide a more precise assessment of GHG emissions associated with the Manufacturing stage of the Carbon Life Cycle. The methodology now takes into account the most likely fuel source associated with a product's manufacturing type, in instances where electricity is not the only type of energy being used to manufacture a product or ingredient.

This update affects:


08/24/2023

Update to Coconut

Yields, ingredient concentrations and sources were updated for all coconut ingredients, in line with the latest research conducted by our research team.

This update affects:


08/03/2023

Update to Stevia

All origins, processing types and ingredient concentrations for stevia were updated to provide more up-to-date data, in line with the latest research conducted by our research team.

This update affects:


07/07/2023

Updated Ingredient Concentrations for Dairy Sheep and Dairy Goat

Sheep and goat dairy ingredients will have new ingredient concentrations, following the same methodology used for cow dairy.

This update affects:


06/21/2023

Update to Herbs

All herbs in our database were updated to provide more up-to-date data, in line with the latest research conducted by our research team. Overall, plant-based meat alternatives and tea will see a minimal negative impact, whereas all other sales categories will see either a small positive impact or none at all. Herbs make up a small portion of a typical product, so impacts are small for most customers.

This update affects:


06/09/2023

Buffalo Meat and Dairy Update

Our research team separated the research for buffalo meat and buffalo dairy to give more accurate data for ingredients linked to these commodities. This update is only for true buffalo, bison is not included.


06/02/2023

Increased granularity of on-farm GHG Emissions

On-farm GHG emissions have been updated for 1800 unique crop/location combinations in our database, in line with the latest data collected by our research team. Many products will see a small change in on-farm GHG emissions, however the overall impact is positive for most sales categories. The only categories to see a noticeable negative change are cold case condiments and cold case eggs.

This update affects:


05/25/2023

Updated Yields and GHG values for Nuts

The research team audited nuts to improve consistency for functional units and associated yields, in addition to reflect latest research. Some nuts were missed in the last upload including almonds from california. This update assesses the impacts of these missed OLs. Keeping functional units consistent across the platform gives more consistent data. Sources were all recorded and updated in the database, further supporting our substantiation project.

This update affects:


05/16/2023

Reduced Ingredient Concentration for Vanilla Extract

The ingredient concentration for vanilla extract has been updated to reflect an improved model of the ratio between vanilla beans, alcohol, and water in the final product.

This update affects:


04/25/2023

Dairy Ingredient Concentration Update

The ingredient concentration value for dairy ingredients was updated to align with the mass allocation rule (dry weight) recommended by the International Dairy Federation (IDF) and the European Dairy Association (EDA).

This update affects:


04/21/2023

Rye GHG Updates

On Farm GHG values for rye have been updated based on the latest research.

This update affects:


04/14/2023

Salt GHG Updates

As a part of our Q1 high priority audits, the salt origin was reviewed and updated with the latest values from research. Since salt is a small portion of most products, this has a very minimal effect on products overall.

This update affects:


03/23/2023

Maple GHG and Yield Updates

As part of our regular audit process, research has reviewed all maple origin GHG and yield data and updated it with more recent data.

This update affects:


03/20/2023

Update grid mix (kg CO2e/MJ) for regions

The grid mix (kg CO2e/MJ) for each region will be updated according to the latest reports published this quarter by EMBER and the US EPA eGRID. Carbon intensity of power grids are assessed globally and published annually. Using updated grid mix data provides more accurate carbon lifecycle calculation for phases where energy requirements are assessed at a regional level.

This update affects:


03/20/2023

New Processing Types for Hydrolysis Ingredients and Reb A Stevia

Ingredients created using hydrolysis were reviewed for more exact processing types based on more recent information and industry standards. Reb A stevia was given a more accurate processing type.

This update affects:


02/27/2023

Update to Corn GHG Values

As a part of our Q1 audits, the research team audited corn to improve consistency for functional units and support substantiation of GHG audits. Keeping functional units consistent across the platform gives more consistent data. Sources were all recorded and updated in the database, further supporting our substantiation project.

This update affects:


02/27/2023

Update to Yield and GHG Values for Nuts

The research team audited nuts to improve consistency for functional units and associated yields, in addition to reflect latest research. Keeping functional units consistent across the platform gives more consistent data. Sources were all recorded and updated in the database, further supporting our substantiation project.

This update affects:


02/17/2023

New Yield Values for Animal Origins

New yields have been calculated for most animal origins. The values are based on a meta analysis of animal feed compositions, likely growing conditions (including pasture for ruminants), and feed quality.


This gives more accurate and defendable yields for impacted origins. The draft GHGP Land Sector and Removals guidance will require a land tracking metric. HowGood's Land Use metric can be used in Land Occupation calculations for GHG reporting.

This update affects:


02/05/2023

Ingredient concentration update for 3 ingredients

We updated ingredient concentration values for the following ingredients to account for the total amount of raw material required to produce one unit of finished ingredient:

  • Jerusalem Artichoke Inulin

  • Ethyl Alcohol

  • Green Tea Extract

This update affects:


01/27/2023

New raw GHG value for Arugula (United States)

We updated the raw GHG value for Arugula (United States) to better align with our system boundaries. The current value is 5x lower than the previous one, with a positive impact for all customers.

This update affects:


12/22/2022

Update to ingredient concentration values for 216 ingredients

The ingredient concentration value for 216 ingredients has been updated to reflect latest research and to better reflect the amount of raw material used to create an equal amount of the final ingredient. The value affects new ingredients (not previously researched) added to Latis over the last weeks of 2022 and ingredients with a low product count (10 to 20 products) in Latis.

This update affects:


11/18/2022

Update to Turmeric GHG values, multiple locations

GHG values for turmeric were re-evaluated to increase the granularity of our dataset. The yield of Turmeric, USA has been updated as well.

  • Origin: Turmeric

    • Locations: India, Peru, USA, Hawaii (USA), Costa Rica, Thailand, Myanmar, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Fiji.

  • Origin: UEBT Certified Turmeric (for Innovation)

    • Locations: India, Vietnam, Global-tropical

This update affects:


11/16/2022

Caramel color ingredient

Caramel color and caramel powder ingredients were reassigned to Corn as raw material (previously: generic Commodity Grains) to align with mainstream sourcing in the food industry. This update affects:


11/09/2022

Natural Flavors Ingredient Concentration Update

To better reflect the amount of raw materials used to create an equal amount of the final ingredient, we are updating the ingredient concentration for unspecified natural flavors, smoked flavor, and peach flavor. Additionally, the raw material used for all generic natural flavors was updated and modeled on a combination of citrus, herbs, flowers, seeds, natural vanilla, and a carrying agent. Since the nearly all of the modeled natural flavor raw materials are global commodities, global is now the only raw material sourcing location available in Latis.

This update affects:


11/09/2022

Artificial Flavors & Vanillin Ingredient Concentration Update

The ingredient concentration value for petroleum-based vanillin has been updated to reflect latest research and to better reflect the amount of raw material used to create an equal amount of the final ingredient. In addition, petroleum-based vanillin has been used as a proxy for non-specified artificial flavors.

This update affects:


11/09/2022

Update to Cacao GHG values

GHG values for on-farm cacao cultivation were re-evaluated across all growing locations to closely align with GHG reporting standards.

This update affects:


11/09/2022

Update to Coffee GHG values

GHG values for on-farm coffee cultivation were re-evaluated across all growing locations to closely align with GHG reporting standards.

This update affects:


11/09/2022

Adjust Transportation GHGs for water

Water is typically added to a product at the manufacturing location. To more accurately reflect this fact in a product's Carbon Footprint, the transportation GHGs for water will default to 0.

This update affects:


11/09/2022

Update to Softwood Tree GHG values

GHG values for on-farm softwood tree cultivation were re-evaluated across all growing locations to closely align with GHG reporting standards.

This update affects:


11/04/2022

Update to GHG values for Limestone, three locations

Raw GHG values for Limestone for three locations (United Kingdom, Germany, and Ireland) were re-evaluated across all growing locations to reflect the latest research.

This update affects:


11/04/2022

Update to GHG values for Salt, nine locations

Raw GHG values for Salt were updated for nine locations (Netherlands, Germany, China, Turkey, Israel, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, and Denmark) to rectify a transcription error from the original source.

This update affects:


11/04/2022

Update to GHG values for Corn, two locations

GHG values for on-farm corn cultivation were re-evaluated across two European locations (Germany and France) to closely align with our system boundaries and reflect latest research.

This update affects:


10/03/2022

Update to Shea GHG values

GHG values for on-farm shea cultivation were re-evaluated across all growing locations to closely align with GHG reporting standards.

This update affects:


09/30/2022

Update to Sugar Beet GHG values

GHG values for on-farm sugar beet cultivation were re-evaluated across all growing locations to closely align with our system boundaries and reflect latest research.

This update affects:


09/20/2022

Update to Fair Labor attribute

We updated the labor flag for commodities and locations based on the latest US DOL reports.

This update affects:


09/02/2022

Update to impact assessments to account for ingredient concentration

We updated impact assessments to more accurately accounting for the amount of raw material required to produce an ingredient. By addressing the difference between the impact of the raw material and the ingredient, we’re able to provide a more accurate representation of the total on-farm impact of growing all the raw material required to make 1kg of an ingredient, rather than just the impact of growing 1 kg of raw material.

This update affects:


08/26/2022

Update to Dairy Cow, Dairy Sheep, and Dairy Goat GHG values

GHG values for on-farm dairy production were re-evaluated across all locations to harmonize allocation approaches across multiple sources and reflect latest research.

This update affects:


08/08/2022

UTZ and Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC) Updates to Labor Risk metric

UTZ has been absorbed by Rainforest Alliance and has relaxed its standards so we will remove the bonus currently being awarded. ROC accepts Fair Trade USA certification as a "social fairness" equivalent certification so we will treat it the same as Fair Trade USA.

This update affects:


08/05/2022

Update to the Water Metric

HowGood's Water Usage metric was upgraded to the Blue Water Usage metric. Blue Water is a measure of the freshwater resources that are used in growing the ingredients of a product. Blue water is a stronger indicator of sustainability because it has more significant environmental impact and can be controlled to a greater extent.

The Blue Water metric takes into account both blue water usage and blue water scarcity to yield a more conclusive assessment of a product’s impact on water resources.

This update affects:


07/14/2022

Update to impact calculations to account for water as an ingredient

Product impact calculations have been updated to include water’s contribution as an ingredient to the product. Previously, a product’s impact was calculated by omitting water as an ingredient to prevent water from washing out the other ingredients’ impacts.

This update affects:


06/28/2022

Fair Trade Standards Update to Labor Risk Metric

HowGood looks at the working conditions and the number of workers involved for harvesting a given commodity to determine the Labor Risk Impact Fair Trade USA, Fair Trade International, and Fair for Life standards can positively impact an ingredient's Labor Risk Impact by improving the working conditions likely to be seen under the standard. These standards do not change the number of workers impacted so we are adjusting the scoring to reflect this fact.

This update affects:


Did this answer your question?