Research & Methodology

HowGood’s research methodology is backed by 17 years of scientific research, and a team of data scientists and agricultural experts at the forefront of food sustainability globally.

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years of research on global food chains
vetted, high quality data sources
on-farm emission factors for food ingredients
sustainability metrics and attributes
product carbon
footprints delivered

Our Research Methodology

HowGood has 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.

HowGood's footprinting methodology is certified by the Carbon Trust and aligned to industry standards.
“Understanding a product’s carbon footprint is an essential first step on any food company’s decarbonisation journey. However, data quality and availability often pose a challenge. HowGood’s Latis platform facilitates this step, enabling like-for-like comparisons across the food industry and helping companies gain insight into their product emissions data to inform next steps and focus areas for reductions. Achieving third-party certification of their Latis calculation methodology adds an extra layer of transparency for food and drink companies as their footprints are being calculated in line with international standards.”
- Tiphaine Aries, Senior Consultant at the Carbon Trust

Our Research Process

HowGood has developed the world’s largest product sustainability database through an ongoing process of exhaustive data collection, analysis of peer-reviewed science, and a progressive heuristic approach to mapping and assessing sustainability data.


Data Collection

The foundation of HowGood’s data is a diverse and continuously updated collection of data sources, including peer reviewed journal articles, academic conference proceedings and texts, aggregated commercial databases, targeted industry studies, NGO research, and government publications.

We use a mix of qualitative and quantitative data sources and for each source, we perform a data certainty assessment. This process is completed for every impact metric in the HowGood system, and for every ingredient on which there is accurate and verifiable data.

Example sources include:


Ingredient Mapping

Once the data has been collected and analyzed, we map every single ingredient to its source crop animal or material. Using global import/export data and HowGood industry partnerships, we then map each source crop to its corresponding geographic location to account for the specific on-the-ground practices, impacts, and risks in each locale.

If we are unable to find a perfect match for a particular ingredient, we use an internal proxying protocol to identify the most appropriate comparable data.

On-farm impacts of GHG emissions, land use, blue water usage and deforestation are multiplied by the ingredient concentration of the product’s ingredient to account for the total amount of material required to grow or raise the ingredient.


Aggregation & Heuristics

At this point in the process, we aggregate data across geographic regions and ingredient categories and develop industry-average impact profiles for each metric and every ingredient.

Based on the ingredient mapping process, our platform assigns a default location and corresponding industry-average profile for every ingredient in a product. If deeper levels of data granularity are available (from a specific supplier, industry partner, or publication), these specifics can be applied to override the industry average values.


Impact Spectrum

The most important step in our methodology is the development of the impact spectrum. Here we harmonize all the data collected on any single impact metric by plotting each practice along a single line: the impact spectrum. This is done while keeping the entire CPG ecosystem in mind, enabling a clean transition from theoretical to practical application.

On the negative end of the spectrum, we find damaging, extractive, oppressive, and/or abusive practices. Sustainable, the mid-point, is a “net-zero” perspective, that doesn’t cause harm but also doesn’t improve. The positive end of the spectrum not only avoids harm, but it also improves, develops, and heals.


Threshold Setting

With the full spectrum of impacts in place, we determine the thresholds to set for each score.

The thresholds are set with one primary goal in mind: to deliver practical, actionable insights for differentiating between two ingredients or whole products. Each quintile represents a score bracket of 2, which adds up to a score out of 10 for each metric. Each metric is then weighted equally and rolled up into a HowGood Impact Score out of 100.


Our team of agricultural and carbon specialists, data scientists and researchers keep HowGood and its customers at the forefront of food sustainability globally.