A mark fighting food waste: Modern Species & Upcycled Food Association Q&A
30% of all food is wasted. This waste accounts for 6% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. According to Project Drawdown, preventing food waste is the single most effective solution to global warming.
Modern Species provides strategic branding and responsible graphic design, while Upcycled Food Association offers certifications for companies using upcycled food ingredients and products. The two organizations partnered to make a new seal for the certification—creating a mark for businesses and consumers to verify the impact of their products.
So, how did their partnership develop, and how did they collaborate to create a refined and functional certification seal? We conducted a Q&A with both organizations to get insight on their inspiring process:
Modern species makes a point to design for the entire lifespan of brands and their products, and are committed to doing their due diligence in sourcing and creating economical and ecologically conscious packaging.
What values do you have as a business that interests Modern Species in the Upcycled Food Association?
Our agency was founded to help design a better world, which could have taken us in many directions. We narrowed our focus to align with our passions for business, food and sustainability. As a Certified B Corp, we believe that business and design can be powerful forces for positive change.
Fast forward twelve years and we've developed deep expertise in branding and sustainable design for mission-driven businesses, with better-for-the-world products as our specialty (sustainable food, personal care, beauty, cleaning products, clothing, durable goods, etc).
While we found this focus by following our hearts, we've remained committed because food-related issues like food waste play a huge role in finding climate solutions. So, getting the opportunity to help grow the upcycled food movement was beyond exciting.
Why did you choose to partner with the Upcycled Food Association?
Beyond the fact that the Upcycled Food Association was founded by brands we respect, the momentum they've picked up in such a short amount of time proves that they're at the forefront of food and impact. When we were asked to review the project brief for the Upcycled Certified, we knew immediately that we wanted to be involved and were already buzzing with ideas for how to approach the challenge. Then when we found out the UFA was a 1% for the Planet nonprofit member, it seemed like destiny—we could help bring this certification to life as part of our 1% for the Planet commitment.
Can you describe the process of creating an impactful seal and how you collaborated on the project?
Every project should start with getting clarity on the goals, the market, the organization, the competition, the audience, and really getting aligned with the client partner on what success objectively looks like. Once everyone is on the same page, speaking the same language, and with their sites set on the same vision, the creative exploration starts.
Since we knew this certification had to work on packaging and on screen, we made sure to show concepts in the context of some of UFA's member's products. This helped us eliminate ideas that wouldn't work, and helped the UFA team review the options more objectively.
We had access to consumer researchers through Drexel University, so the team chose the strongest concepts and had them evaluated with the project objectives. The process revealed strong results for multiple concepts. To make the decision, the team weighed the pros and cons objectively to land on the most fitting option.
We then went through a process of refinement, including having another research partner review the seal to gain insights on performance and formatting.
Once we had all the evidence we needed, (yay science!) we finalized the mark and created some usage guidelines to ensure it was easy to use, which was important to us as designers and for brand consistency and recognizability amongst consumers.
The finalized seals will appear on products as certification marks, showing a company's commitment to using upcycled ingredients and products.
How does it feel to know you’ve supported the work of an organization that aims to help reduce food waste?
We're incredibly honored to have played our part in this new certification (especially as designers who regularly apply certifications to our client's packaging), and we will continue to support the upcycled food movement in any way we can. Not only is it perfectly aligned with our mission, but it's one of the best solutions for climate change.
How did this partnership between Modern Species and Upcycled Food come to be?
We were introduced to Modern Species through Dan Kurzrock, UFA member and Co-Founder of ReGrained, who had previously collaborated with the organization. To mitigate the cost of creation, Dan encouraged UFA to become a 1% For the Planet partner so Modern Species could donate their services. We were thrilled to partner with a mission-driven agency that believes design can be a powerful force for positive change and understands the importance of reducing food waste.
What did having this seal mean to your organization and the upcycled food movement?
The mark is a monumental step to fighting food waste! The purpose of the Upcycled Certified Program is to create a future in which millions of consumers are empowered to prevent food waste with the products they buy. The flagship of the Program is the on-package mark, which helps grocery retailers highlight and lead consumers to upcycled products. The mark will be printed on billions of food packages and seen by millions of consumers, opening the consumer education bottleneck.
How does consumer education play into your mission and the creation of the seal?
Consumer education is a large and essential piece of the puzzle. The mission of the Upcycled Food Association is to prevent food waste by growing the upcycled food economy faster than it otherwise would. We accomplish this through consumer education, partnerships with retailers and networking. The Upcycled Certified mark will help retailers identify and feature upcycled products on shelves and online. This is just the beginning, we still have a lot of work to do to educate consumers about upcycled food.
To get involved and find out more about advancing sustainable food systems, visit Upcycled Food Association.