French retail group Les Mousquetaires is launching a pilot labelling scheme to let shoppers know the environmental impact of their food purchases.

It has worked with Greenext, a environmental rating agency, to environmentally classify 500,000 consumer products, although the labels will be tested on “hundreds” of products as part of the pilot, which will take place in France.

The new labels have a colour rating to signify the environmental impact of the product – similar to household appliances – in three different areas. For food, the labels will refer to carbon dioxide emission, how the product affects water supplies and air pollution.

Extra information can be downloaded on smartphones while in-store through a free app. The company, which owns the Intermarche chain, is holding the trial as part of its efforts to “meet consumer expectations” on environmentalism and continue its “commitment to responsible consumption”.

“Les Mousquetaires want to give consumers access to environmental data that allows them to compare products and make informed purchases,” a spokesperson said.

“The purpose of this experiment is not to favour one food or product over another but to help our customers select the one that will have the least impact from an environmental perspective.”

Signs and websites to educate consumers about the pilot are already in-store.