Photo source: Lactalis
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Happy Earth Day 2022!
Just in time for Earth Day 2022--Friday, April 22--global management consulting firm Kearney released its 2022 Earth Day Survey. The report contains great information. You can access it HERE.
The report looks into the climate impact of consumer food-purchasing choices and measures consumer momentum toward “climavorism,” the making of mindful food purchasing and consumption choices based on their impact on climate and the larger environment.
These decisions make a difference. And the U.S. dairy industry is proactive in this space.
Did you know?
- Due to innovative farming and feed practices, a gallon of milk in 2017 required 30% less water, 21% less land and 19% smaller carbon footprint than in 2007.
- According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, since 2005 North America was the only region in the world that reduced its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), even as it increased milk production, making its greenhouse gas intensity for dairy products the lowest in the world.
- Dairy farms are a powerful tool against food waste by diverting byproducts (such as almond hulls, citrus pulp and brewer’s grains) from other food industries and using them as feed, converting potentially unused resources into high-nutrient foods and beverages.
- Dairy farmers can also convert food waste and manure into valuable products such as renewable energy and fertilizer.
- U.S. dairy has set a goal to achieve greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050, creating a cross-industry Net Zero Initiative that advances research, on-farm pilots and new market development to make sustainability practices more accessible and affordable to farms of all sizes and regions.
Kearney’s Earth Day Survey polled 1,000 U.S. consumers on their awareness of, and attitudes toward, the relationship between their eating preferences and the climate crisis, and found a measurable shift in consumer awareness of the environmental impact of their food-buying choices.
“Daily food choice is a call to action for consumers keen to make a positive impact on climate outcomes, with nearly one-third of consumers in our survey considering environmental impact at the grocery store,” says Corey Chafin, associate partner in Kearney’s consumer practice, and the study’s principal author. “We are entering into a new era of climate-conscious eating--giving rise to the Climavores--with 80% of consumers indicating at least some awareness of the connection between food choice and the environment.”
Climavores, as you might expect, follow a diet less defined by ingredients, unlike veganism, for example. Instead, Climavores actively make food choices based on climate impacts, practicing climate-conscious eating based on a series of dietary trade-offs intended to benefit the planet. This is not just a niche trend, but rather a steadily growing consumer movement that seeks to understand the climate implications of their food choices. (See graph.)
The study concludes that food processors need to pay attention to the growing Climavore consumer segment for two reasons. First, it is clearly building momentum. Second, since food production is the second-largest source of adverse climate change, things have to change if manufacturers have any hope of hitting their GHG emission targets before those voluntary targets become mandates.
“Food companies must add ‘climate impact’ to their product reformulation and design-to-value campaigns to prepare for the rise of the Climavore consumer,” says Chafin.
It’s not that easy. The study identifies several major caveats for food companies. For starters, climate-conscious foods that reduce GHG must taste good and be on a par with or below the market cost of products with larger carbon footprints. The U.S. dairy industry, along with many global dairy processors, already deliver on this.
“Taste is a critical barrier,” said Lorraine Kelly, senior category marketing manager for Synergy.
Chafin also points to declining interest in plant-based foods and respondents’ concerns about being identified as vegans or vegetarians.
“Consumers have become alienated by the binary ‘omnivore/vegetarian’ thinking and plant-based burger craze,” he says. “Instead we should focus on climate-conscious food choices of any type.”
In General Mills’ 2022 Global Responsibility Report, the company states that “regenerative agriculture is the most promising solution to reach our climate goals.”
Thank you to General Mills, the manufacturer of dairy brands such as oui, ratio and Yoplait. The company has the scale and resources to drive positive change in the food system through its work in regenerative agriculture, sustainable ingredient sourcing and nutrition access.
Here are some recent production introductions that speak directly to the Climavore.
This Climavore-friendly milk beverage gets my vote as the “best-tasting, first-of-its-kind” product in the marketplace. (I seldom give out such accolades.) It’s from Clover Sonoma, a third-generation family-owned and operated dairy and Certified B Corporation. The company is taking its brand nationally with the launch of Organic Moon Milks.
Steeped in ancient Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems, Clover Sonoma’s Moon Milks blend 2% organic milk with herbs and spices. Available in quart size, Clover Sonoma Moon Milks are debuting at Whole Foods Market in three varieties: Golden Moon (Turmeric Ginger), Blue Moon (Blueberry Lavender) and Pink Moon (Cherry Berry Hibiscus). The soothing botanicals infused in all three flavors of Moon Milks can help promote relaxation and wellness throughout the day and can be enjoyed cold, warm or in a variety of recipes. Oh my, these are amazing!
Mintel named Moon Milks as one of the “Three Drink Trends to Watch Out for in 2022,” stating “over the course of the pandemic, the home has become the center of life, including work and relaxation. As a result, consumers are increasingly looking for rituals combining experience with indulgence and comfort.”
Clover Sonoma Moon Milks are a perfectly balanced, nutritious whole food with eleven naturally occurring vitamins and minerals providing 25% Daily Value of calcium and 9 grams of protein per one cup serving. A 32-ounce carton sells for $5.99.
“We look forward to sharing our organic Moon Milks with conscious consumers who look for wellness products offering unique health benefits,” says Clover Sonoma Chief Growth Officer Kristel Corson. “Consumers can now enjoy a new ritual of drinking Moon Milks morning, noon or night. Moon Milks can elevate any smoothie, transform tea or coffee into a creamy latte, brighten breakfast cereal, boost ice with a pour over or simply warm up for a soothing bedtime treat. Plus, you can also use Moon Milks to add a natural color or flavor boost to a variety of delicious recipes found in our digital recipe book. The versatility of this unique and nutritious dairy beverage is endless.”
Clover Sonoma is all about sustainability. The Petaluma, Calif.-based dairy is taking a big step forward in its new organic gallon milk jug. It supports a closed loop recycling system to ensure that plastic is neither created nor destroyed, but re-used for a single purpose. The company is starting with 30% post-consumer resin (PCR) content and is committed to increasing the PCR content and extending PCR content use across all Clover Sonoma gallon milk jugs by 2025. The first PCR milk jugs hit the shelf in the first quarter of 2022 with a designated logo to educate consumers about the new packaging’s benefits.
“To reach our sustainability goals, packaging innovation is a priority for us as a company,” says Corson. “Finding sustainable solutions means taking risks and investing in what’s best for the planet. We are focused on improving our packaging across product lines using reusable, recyclable, renewable and environmentally conscious resources. We encourage the food industry to join us in this effort.”
Recycled plastic is less wasteful than new plastic because new plastic mostly comes from non-renewable fossil fuels like petroleum, which are hard on the environment. By contrast, recycled plastics require no virgin petroleum to be sourced and divert recycled materials from ending up in a landfill, so they alleviate much of the environmental burden.
“By closing the loop on gallon milk jugs, Clover Sonoma is helping keep packaging out of landfills,” says California Milk Advisory Board CEO John Talbot. “California dairy producers and processors are committed to providing a sustainable, nutritious product while working together to reduce the environmental impact of milk across its entire lifecycle. This initiative is an important step in that journey.”
Currently, the company’s gallon milk jugs are made of high density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic, commonly referred to as #2 plastic, which is one of the most widely accepted plastics in recycling programs. As Clover Sonoma produces milk gallon jug packaging using more PCR content, the company needs a greater volume of recycled HDPE. If more consumers rinse, cap and place gallon milk jugs in a recycling bin for pickup, the company can produce more milk gallon jugs from recycled PCR content to further support a circular economy.
The company also made the conscious decision to reduce plastic waste by saying “no” to plastic caps on many of its paper milk cartons. These cartons are now fully renewable.
I had the chance to meet the people behind Neutral Milk when I spoke at the Oregon Dairy Industries meeting a few weeks ago. One of the company’s investors is Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and judge on Shark Tank.
“Neutral is a game-changer,” says Cuban. “Neutral works with farmers to deploy on-farm carbon reduction projects focused on compost, manure management and feed changes. It’s a unique solution that can feed us while protecting us. It’s a program that I’m proud to be part of.”
Neutral Foods offers Whole Milk, 2% Milk, Fat-Free Milk, Heavy Whipping Cream and Half & Half, and Organic Whole Milk, Organic 2% Milk and Organic Half & Half. Products are available nationally through Whole Foods and other select retailers.
Neutral Foods was founded in 2019 in Portland, Oregon, with a mission to reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture. The company works with dairy farmers to implement a number of strategies to drive down the carbon emissions of milk, and what can't be reduced is offset through the purchase of carbon credits from U.S. dairy farmers who turn cow emissions into renewable energy.
In late October 2021, the company announced it raised $4 million in financing from two venture capital firms, bringing its total funding to more than $4.8 million to date. Breakthrough Energy Ventures led the round with Mark Cuban Companies participating.
“We believe a large number of consumers desire greater control of their climate change purchasing decisions,” says Carmichael Roberts, Breakthrough Energy Ventures. “Neutral’s availability at Whole Foods Market is an opportunity for consumers to consciously choose climate aligned products in their daily lives, and we’re proud to support their mission to reduce the carbon footprint of products consumers know and love.”
The capital raised will be used to support national distribution, driving awareness and trial of the brand, and to make direct investments with farmers on projects to reduce carbon emissions.
“Solutions to reduce agricultural GHG emissions and increase sequestration on agricultural lands exist, but they’re expensive. We’re giving farmers the capital they need to adopt low- or no-emitting solutions,” says Ann Radil, head of carbon reduction at Neutral. “This year we’re investing in family-owned farms in Oregon and Washington, reducing GHG emissions by changing what cows eat and how nutrients are managed. Over their lifetimes, these projects will avoid more than 3,200 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent from entering the atmosphere. Next year we’re tripling our investment in family-owned farms across the U.S., funding tactics that reduce operational emissions or increase long-term carbon storage in vegetation and soils.”
There are also two new butters in the marketplace that are Climavore friendly. Anchor, the consumer brand of New Zealand dairy cooperative Fonterra, is debuting Organic carbonzero Certified Butter. Made with cream from independently certified organic farms, Anchor’s Organic carbonzero Certified Butter has a fresh creamy taste and rich golden hue to reflect New Zealand cows’ pasture-rich diet.
New Zealand has one of the lowest on-farm carbon footprints in the world, making Anchor uniquely qualified to offer consumers a butter option that helps reduce their environmental impact. Anchor’s Organic carbonzero Certified Butter has been audited and verified by Toit? Envirocare, an independent certifier that verifies carbon emissions across the product life cycle. In order to meet the carbonzero certification requirements of Toit? Envirocare, Fonterra calculated the carbon emissions required in the distribution of Anchor butter from farm to consumers’ homes, developed a plan to reduce emissions further and supported renewable energy projects to offset emissions that couldn't be reduced.
And Glanbia Ireland now offers Truly Grass Fed Spreadable Butter in the U.S. The butter is made from cows that are 95% grass-fed, Non-GMO Project Verified, Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World, and free from growth hormones ande art of farming but deeply dedicated t antibiotics. The brand is rooted in tho sustainability, transparency and progress with wholesome dairy from cows living their best lives outside, on pasture on average 250 days a year, grazing on green Irish grass.
“These cows are living their best lives outside, on pasture on average 250 days a year, grazing on green Irish grass,” says Nicola O’Connell, head of marketing. “We work with about 3,000 farmers in southeast Ireland who have 90 to 100 herd sizes.”
The company recently joined 1% for the Planet, and will donate 1% of its annual revenue to Slow Food USA, a nonprofit dedicated to transforming how people produce, consume and enjoy food. The Truly Grass Fed donation will support Slow Food USA’s mission of uniting the joy of food with the pursuit of justice to achieve good, clean and fair food for all. Together, they seek to advance the brand’s commitment to crafting dairy products with integrity and care for people, animals and the planet.
Happy Earth Day!