Our Research

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
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vetted, high quality data sources
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on-farm emissions factors for food ingredients
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sustainability metrics and attributes
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product sustainability assessments

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.

Download our methodology in PDF:

Our Impact Spectrum

Mapping the environmental impact of the food system

HowGood assesses the social and environmental impact of 33,000+ ingredients across eight sustainability metrics, on an impact spectrum from negative to positive.

Negative Impact

Degenerative, unsustainable social and environmental impact

Positive Impact

Furthest movement towards regeneration and net-positive impact

Our Sustainability Metrics

HowGood’s eight core sustainability metrics capture holistic sustainability impact:

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

What is the carbon footprint of growing this ingredient?

Biodiversity

How does the growing of this ingredient help or hurt global biodiversity?

Processing

How much energy is used in the factory processing of this ingredient?

BLUE Water Usage

How much blue water does it take to grow or raise this ingredient?

Labor Risk

What is the overall labor risk involved in growing or raising this ingredient?

Land Occupation

How much land does it take to grow or raise this ingredient?

Soil Health

How does the growing of this ingredient impact the soil where it’s grown?

Animal Welfare

How do the ingredients in this product impact the welfare of animals?

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.

STEP 1:

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:

STEP 2:

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.

STEP 3:

Aggregation and 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.

STEP 4:

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.

STEP 5:

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 Research Team

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

Arthur Gillett

Chief Research Officer & Co-Founder

Arthur leads the strategic direction of HowGood’s research methodology and is the driving force behind our 17 years of research on global food systems.

JD Capuano, M.S, B.A

Head of Research

JD Capuano is Head of Research at HowGood, leading the research team in designing metrics, analyzing sustainability impact and supporting client, sales and engineering teams.

Lizz Aspley, M.S, B.S

METRICS ARCHITECT

Lizz Aspley is a data scientist at HowGood, where she leads the design and prototype of new sustainability metrics, aligns global sustainability standards with HowGood’s research methodology  and designs sustainability solutions for customers.

Andrea Cecchin, PhD, M.S, B.S

SENIOR AGRICULTURE & CARBON SPECIALIST

Andrea Cecchin is a Senior Agriculture and Carbon Specialist at HowGood, where he leads the design and research of new sustainability metrics and is a subject matter expert on carbon emissions.

Tara Mehlich, B.Com

FOOD SCIENCE ANALYST

Tara Mehlich is Food Science Analyst at HowGood, where she specializes in analyzing ingredient processing types across the food system. She manages client data, assists with customer onboarding, and researches crop-location combinations.

Steve Riesenberg, M.S, B.A

DATA SCIENTIST

Steve Riesenberg is a data scientist with HowGood, where he manages customer data, automates processes and ensures high levels of data quality. He supports the design of new sustainability metrics by ingesting the latest scientific research into HowGood’s metric logic.

Karla Chikani Cabrera, M.S, PhD CANDIDATE

LCA & SUSTAINABILITY RESEARCHER

Karla Chikani Cabrera is an LCA and Sustainability Researcher with HowGood, where she analyzes and synthesizes sustainability insights from life cycle farm-to-farm-gate emissions factors.

Gabriela Cuevas Castillo, M.S, PhD CANDIDATE

LCA & SUSTAINABILITY RESEARCHER

Gabriela Castillo is an LCA and Sustainability Researcher at HowGood, where she analyzes and synthesizes sustainability insights from life cycle assessments and other data sources. Her work focuses on energy consumption and GHG emissions.

Yeyetsi Maldonado Caballero, M.D.P, B.S

SUSTAINABILITY DATA RESEARCHER

Yeyetsi Maldonado is a Sustainability Data Researcher at HowGood, where she researches location-specific crops and conducts data content audits. She supports our metrics team in researching human rights and labor issues in different locations around the world.

Soraya Karimi, B.S

DATA SCIENTIST

Soraya Karimi is a data analyst at HowGood, where she performs data ingestions, automates processes, supports metric redesigns, and ensures high levels ofdata quality. Soraya enables key HowGood processes in ensuring that customer data is managed and with precision and care.

Joshua Doria, M.S, B.S

agriculture & food systems researcher

Joshua Doria is an Agriculture and Food Systems Researcher at HowGood, where he conducts location-specific crop research, supports data audits and contributes to the design of new metrics – in particular the Soil Health metric. He is also a Certified Crop Advisor through the American Society of Agronomy.

Emily Steliotes, M.S

agriculture & food systems researcher

Emily Steliotes is an Agriculture and Food Systems Researcher at HowGood, where she researches location-specific crops and ingredient processing types in the context of GHG emissions.

Katie Bolton, M.S, B.A

DATA ANALYST

Katie Bolton is a Data Analyst with HowGood, where she supports our clients in maintaining data quality standards, building analytics reports on and delivering ratings assessments for HowGood’s retail clients.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

HowGood’s product sustainability database is comprised of more than one million products spanning 33,000 ingredients, mapped against eight core sustainability metrics and more than 250 attributes.

HowGood employs an iterative approach to assessing and updating data sources and in turn, strengthening our impact assessments. Our Research team is constantly reviewing the latest findings from scientific publications and assessing new data sources for inclusion in our 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. 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.

In the context of GHG emissions, this iterative approach is in line with international best practices and thinking around climate science.

“Companies should pursue an iterative approach to improve the accuracy of its scope GHG inventory by collecting more granular and accurate data for emission hotspots, using primary data where available. […] Once a baseline GHG inventory is established, a company should formulate ambition through reduction targets, plan interventions towards achieving those targets, and finally, measure and track progress against the targets.”

-Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), 2018. Value Change in the Value Chain: Best Practices in Scope 3 Greenhouse Gas Management, p.11.

HowGood employs industry-recognized methodologies for each of our impact metrics, including:

  • GHG Emissions: GHG Protocol; IPCC GWP100a 2013
  • Processing: GHG Protocol; IPCC GWP100a 2013
  • Blue Water Usage: Global Water Footprint Standard 2011
  • Land Use: ReCiPe 2016
  • Soil Health: Bioversity International ABDI 2019
  • Labor Risk: UNGP Human Rights Risk Reporting Framework [SHIFT] 2015
  • Biodiversity: Bioversity International & HowGood Standard 2020
  • Animal Welfare: Global Animal Partnership (G.A.P) Standard 2020

Arthur Gillett

Chief Research Officer and Co-Founder

Arthur Gillett is the Chief Research Officer and Co-Founder of HowGood. Arthur leads the strategic direction of HowGood’s research methodology and is the driving force behind our 17 years of research on global food systems.

Arthur founded HowGood in 2007 out of a desire to bring transparency into the sustainability of food products to shoppers. With a passion for food and a background in data consulting, Arthur has spearheaded a comprehensive approach to sustainability measurement that is unparalleled in the food tech industry.

Arthur envisioned a consumer-facing sustainable food ratings system well before industry adoption of food labeling, and continues to be at the forefront of global sustainability trends and thinking. Initially working with Coops and local independent stores, Arthur has designed metrics and KPI’s for the needs of every segment of the retail market from regional, mission-driven chains to multinational CPG Brands looking to better understand their impact on the world. These insights have helped to improve over 10 million shopper decisions a year since 2016.

His background in data analysis stems from his experience designing data reporting and automation processes with JPMorgan Chase. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Studies from Davidson College.

JD Capuano

HEAD OF RESEARCH

JD Capuano is Head of Research at HowGood, leading the research team in designing metrics, analyzing sustainability impact and supporting client, sales and engineering teams.

JD brings deep skills in data analytics and strategy gained over nearly a decade at a Fortune 200 company using statistics and advanced analytics to advise senior commercial leaders. He also brings experience with impact measurement, sustainability goal setting, research and life cycle analysis from over a decade working as an entrepreneur and sustainability and management consultant for companies ranging from startups to the top of the Fortune list.

From 2015-2021 JD served as a Faculty Member of Bard College MBA in Sustainability, where he designed the data course and taught data analysis and ethics around diversity, equity and inclusion considerations in data and artificial intelligence.

He holds a Master of Science in Sustainability Management from Columbia University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. He currently serves as an Advisory Board member to Mightybytes (B Corp).

Lizz Aspley, M.S, B.S

Metrics Architect

Lizz Aspley is a data scientist at HowGood, where she leads the design and prototype of new sustainability metrics and initiatives.

Lizz interprets and aligns global sustainability standards with HowGood’s research methodology to design sustainability solutions for HowGood customers. In doing so, she enables HowGood customers to stay abreast of sustainability trends, remain compliant with emerging regulations and ultimately achieve their sustainability goals.

Lizz brings valuable skills in data science, machine learning and creative problem solving from her previous experience in software engineering and analytics with AT&T. Her work has been published in the Journal of Mathematical Fluid Mechanics, and she holds a patent for the data modeling solutions she developed with AT&T.

She holds a Master of Science in Mathematics and Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics from Georgia Institute of Technology.

Andrea Cecchin, PhD, M.S, B.S

Senior Agriculture and Carbon Specialist

Andrea Cecchin is a Senior Agriculture and Carbon Specialist at HowGood, where he leads the design and research of new sustainability metrics and serves as the in-house subject matter expert on carbon emissions. He is an international expert in circular economy and industrial ecology.

Andrea led research and community engagement projects on circular economy in Europe, South and North America, allowing him to develop a transdisciplinary approach for problem solving in complex real-world sustainability challenges. He is the co-leader of the International Sustainable Development Research Society’s Working Group on Circular Economy and served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of North Dakota, North Dakota State University and Minnesota State University Moorhead, where he taught environmental policy and other sustainability-related courses.

Andrea brings deep experience in agricultural LCA, carbon and nitrogen cycle modeling, and sustainability assessment methodologies.

He holds a PhD and a MS/BS in Environmental Sciences from Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, and a Post-Graduate Specialization Certificate in Sustainable Urban Planning from the University Institute of Architecture Venice. He has published 10+ scientific books and articles, and given 25+ academic and community talks as an invited speaker on circular economy and sustainable resource management.

Tara Dalton Mehlich, B.Com

Food Science Analyst

Tara Mehlich is Food Science Analyst at HowGood, where she specializes in analyzing ingredient processing types across the food system. She collaborates with our data team in managing client data, assists with customer onboarding, and manages our research queue for crop-location combinations. Tara researches new ingredients and finished products for customers ranging from multi-nationals to smaller scale start-ups.

Tara brings skills in communications and etymology, food processing understanding, as well as a deep curiosity and love for both the natural world and the science of the food system. She has experience as an Americorps member, working with the Forestry service to restore and maintain National Parks trails in the American west.

Tara holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from SUNY New Paltz and a Food Science Certification from Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Steve Riesenberg, M.S, B.A

Data Scientist

Steve Riesenberg is a data scientist with HowGood, where he manages customer data, automates processes and ensures high levels of data quality. He supports the design of new sustainability metrics by ingesting the latest scientific research into HowGood’s metric logic.

Steve also serves as an instructor at The City University of New York, where he teaches data science. He brings skills in machine learning, data analysis and data visualization from his previous roles in education and urban agriculture. He first became interested in sustainability while working on small vegetable farms in Missouri, and worked with an urban farm non-profit that supplied food to local food banks and shelters.

He holds a Master of Science in Data Science from The City University of New York Graduate Center, and a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Mathematics from City College of New York.

Karla Chikani Cabrera, M.S

LCA & Sustainability Researcher

Karla Chikani Cabrera is an LCA and Sustainability Researcher with HowGood, where she analyzes and synthesizes sustainability insights from Life Cycle farm-to-farm-gate emissions factors.

Karla brings unique knowledge of biotechnology, food and biofuels from her experience in the academic sector. She has worked on Life Cycle assessment for biofuels using renewable raw materials (palm oil, sugarcane, waste cooking oil and yeast). She has experience generating life cycle inventories and assessments from her work as a research assistant for Centro Mexicano de Innovación en Energia (CEMIE-BIO).

She is currently completing a PhD in Science (Renewable Energies) from Centro de Investigación Científica de Yucatán, and holds a Master in Chemical Sciences and Biochemistry and an Industrial Chemical Engineer Qualification from Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan.

Gabriela Cuevas Castillo, M.S

LCA & Sustainability Researcher

Gabriela Castillo is an LCA and Sustainability Researcher at HowGood, where she analyzes and synthesizes sustainability insights from Life Cycle Assessments and other data sources. Gabriela’s work focuses on energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, bolstering our Carbon Life Cycle module methodology and providing carbon emissions calculations for HowGood customers.

Gabriela brings unique knowledge of microbiology, food and biofuels from her previous academic and laboratory experiences. She has worked on Life Cycle Assessments for biofuels from secondary crops, and contributed to research projects on renewable systems.

She is currently completing a Doctorate Degree at the University of Sheffield, and holds a Master’s in Chemical Sciences and Biochemistry from the Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan. She has published several academic papers on microalgal biomass and energy with international journals and conferences.

Yeyetsi Maldonado Caballero, MDP, B.S

Sustainability Data Researcher

Yeyetsi Maldonado is a Sustainability Data Researcher at HowGood, where she researches location-specific crops and conducts data content audits. Of note, she supports our metrics team in researching human rights issues and labor rights in different locations around the world. In turn, Yeyetsi’s work provides HowGood customers with location-specific Labor Risk assessments and supports them in reducing or eliminating high-risk ingredients from their supply chain.

Yeyetsi brings unique knowledge of agroforestry, non-timber forest products, biodiversity and ecology from her research experience in fungal ecology and taxonomy. She is interested in food systems and understanding how the relationship between people and agroforestry influences how communities engage with maintaining biodiversity, food security, and preserving traditional ecological knowledge.

She holds a Master of Sustainable Development Practice from University of Florida and a Bachelor of Biology from the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo.

Soraya Karimi, B.S

Data Scientist

Soraya Karimi is a data analyst at HowGood, where she performs data ingestions, automates processes, supports metric redesigns, and ensures data quality. Soraya enables key HowGood processes in ensuring that customer data is managed and ingested with precision and care.

Soraya brings experience in data analysis, databases, data visualizations and machine learning from her previous roles in sustainable energy. Her interests are inspired by her vegan, environmentally-conscious lifestyle, and reaffirmed through her recent volunteer work at an animal sanctuary and as a pet foster.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Systems Engineering from Stanford University, and a certificate from the BrainStation bootcamp for Data Science.

Joshua Doria, M.S, B.S

Agriculture & Food Systems Researcher

Joshua Doria is an Agriculture and Food Systems Researcher at HowGood, where he conducts location-specific crop research, contributes to the design of new metrics and supports data audits. Most notably, Joshua has contributed to the design of HowGood’s Soil Carbon metric, which assesses the change in soil carbon for every ingredient in HowGood’s database.

Joshua brings unique knowledge of soil health from his experience as a research technician, where he conducted soil fertility and soil health-related research trials in cotton, sorghum, corn, soybeans, wheat, and cover crop mixes. He has extensive agricultural field experience from running field research at the Texas A&M farm for three years in addition to other agricultural volunteering during high school and college.

Joshua holds a Master of Science in Soil Science from Texas A&M University, and a Bachelor of Science, Plant and Soil Science, specialization in Crop Science from Texas Tech University. He is also a Certified Crop Advisor through the American Society of Agronomy. 

Emily Steliotes, M.S

Agriculture & Food Systems Researcher

Emily Steliotes is an Agriculture and Food Systems Researcher at HowGood, where she researches location-specific crops and ingredient processing types. Her work ensures that HowGood’s sustainability intelligence platform is equipped with the most accurate information on food product sustainability.

Emily brings unique knowledge of regenerative agriculture, food science, nutrition, and the circular economy from her previous roles as a researcher and consultant in the private, nonprofit, and academic sectors. She cultivated an interest in sustainability metrics while working with the Upcycled Food Association to develop the first ever upcycled certification. She developed a passion for using data to study the food system while conducting agricultural research at the International Potato Center in Peru.

Emily holds a Master of Science from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and a Professional Certificate in Corporate Social Responsibility from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She has also been awarded four fellowships in food systems and business innovation from the University of California, Davis where she completed additional graduate work at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the Graduate School of Management.

Katie Bolton

Data Analyst

Katie Bolton is a Data Analyst with HowGood, where she supports our clients in maintaining data quality standards, uploading client data, building analytics reports on product portfolios and delivering ratings assessments for HowGood’s retail clients.

Katie brings wide ranging data science experience, including valuable skills in software and programming, data analytics, statistics and machine learning. She completed a Data Science Fellowship with the federal government’s Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC), where she worked with nationwide programmatic datasets on data quality assurance, standardization and fraud detection.

Katie has had a longstanding interest in sustainability, and loves gardening and vegetarian cooking. She holds a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from the University of Southern California.

STEP TWO

Upload ingredient form

Get discovered by SMEs & FMCGs and/or enhance your customer relationships by adding your ingredients to HowGood's Supplier Portal for the Big Food Redesign Challenge.