ALWAYS read the climate-label!
If you've not already spotted it, you'll now find climate footprint labels on some of our products (working on the rest!) as we look to improve our impact on our planet whilst helping you to make better and more empowered choices.
So if you are wondering why and how we have calculated these numbers, you've come to the right place.
Did you know we are the first and only baby food brand to publish our products’ climate footprint and print it on our packaging? Yeah- pretty impressive (if we do say so ourselves).
Meet Nicky, our Group Senior Sustainability Manager, who looks after all things environmental and ethical related at Little Freddie. Her role focuses on reducing carbon emissions, sourcing our products responsibly and running our recycling initiative with Enval. Nicky has also been busy working out the climate footprints of our products. With help from platform partner CarbonCloud, Nicky's calculations have been rigorously verified to ensure they are as accurate as possible.
We sat down with Nicky to learn more about climate footprints, labels, and why she wants to help parents make more informed decisions at the supermarket shelf.
What is a climate footprint?
Climate footprint is a term coined by our partner CarbonCloud, describing the quantified climate impact of our products from farm to shelf. This journey follows the production of agricultural inputs, transportation, processing, packaging and distribution up until the product reaches the supermarket shelf. It doesn't include transport from grocery store to home, heating the product, or disposal of the food and/or packaging.
It’s a measurement expressed in kilograms of CO2e (kg CO2e) per product, which makes it easy for us to compare these footprints to everyday objects like a bag of flour or even a new born baby!
What does the 'e' mean in CO2e?
'E' stands for equivalent so carbon dioxide equivalent. Because there are other greenhouses gases (GHGs) that are considered more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to global warming, we really need to be including these other GHG emissions into our calculations. Using CO2e allows you to express other greenhouse gas emissions as an equivalent of CO2, thereby capturing a more honest representation of a product's impact.
How do you go about calculating a climate footprint?
In short you need lots of data. It can be quite overwhelming. It’s a really collaborative process because you need to work with others, inside and outside of the company, explaining what you need and why you need it. Fortunately for me, I have equally amazing colleagues and suppliers that were willing to lend me their time and support.
Let’s use our bestseller of Creamy Blueberry & Banana Greek Style Yoghurt as an example. So I’ve split out what we needed to find out below:
- Agriculture: Emissions related to the agricultural production of our Greek style yoghurt, wild blueberries and other ingredients used in our product. You can get this information from CarbonCloud's open source 'ClimateHub'
- Transportation of ingredients: The transport type and distance travelled of our ingredients from field to factory and between factories.
- Manufacturing: Electricity and gas consumption related to Little Freddie's product at our manufacturer's production facilities.
- Packaging: Emissions related to the manufacture and transport of packaging materials and packaging.
- Distribution: Finished product distribution from the factory to our warehouse and onto retailers.
Does recycling help to reduce this footprint?
It's important to note that these calculations do not include what happens after our products leave the store. It's too complex to try to work this out because we don't know how they are transported, where to and for how long. What we can say is that by recycling our packaging through our return scheme with Enval, (see here for more details), you will be able to make a difference yourself!
Why would you choose to publish a climate footprint?
I think you could easily flip this question on its head and argue why not? When I made the decision to approach CarbonCloud, I can admit I was nervous about what our footprints would be, and I couldn't predict how others would react. I soon came to the realisation that there isn't a 'good or bad' footprint - publishing your footprint demonstrates transparency and enables the consumer to make better and more informed decisions. You would have to be living under a rock to not be aware of the climate crisis we face, and as one third of GHG emissions come from food systems, we cannot afford to do nothing. In understanding our footprint, we can take the steps required to reduce it. It is always risky being the first in a category to do something different however, we now believe it's our responsibility to encourage other brands in our category to join us in quantifying their products' climate impact.
How does Little Freddie product footprints compare to everyday items?
Whilst we wait for more brands (from the baby food sector and across the wider food industry) to publish their climate footprints, you can check how our products compare to other everyday food items below:
- Tenderloin beef steak = 65 kg CO2e per kg
- Unsalted butter = 17 kg CO2e per kg
- Ice cream = 4.3 kg CO2e per kg
- Little Freddie’s Creamy Blueberry Banana Greek Style Yoghurt = 2.3 kg CO2e per kg
- Bottle of red wine = 1.5 kg CO2e per kg
- 1L of orange juice = 0.91 kg CO2e per kg
- Banana = 0.53 kg CO2e per kg
What should parents do if they see a footprint?
Climate footprint labels are still a relatively new concept. It is not a legal requirement to display a label - although legislation is coming - and right now there are quite a few different types of 'eco-label' popping up across the food industry. Furthermore, we all have a natural tendency to want to be able to compare numbers against known and familiar objects and of course 'pigeon-hole' these into a good or bad camp.
My advice to parents is to look out for more climate footprint labels - not only from Little Freddie - but from other food brands they normally shop from. If they really want to take action, why not contact their favourite brands and ask to see 'their numbers'. I mean wouldn't it be great if people could compare the climate impact of lots of different products before adding them to their baskets!
What's next for Little Freddie?
Knowing our climate footprint has had a massive impact on how we operate as a business. From now on, all new products we launch will have a climate label. Even before they launch, the potential climate footprint is now being considered alongside nutrition and taste. For example, we've got some exciting (but top secret) new products launching soon and by keeping the climate footprint in mind, we have worked to ensure they are all low carbon, plant-based, have recyclable packaging and are made locally In the UK.
When can we see labels in stores?
We want climate footprints on all our products – so far, we have done 5 with more being worked on. Our first printed label has already launched this year on our Creamy Pink Lady Greek Style Yoghurt multipack with plenty more in the pipeline! I will add that if anyone wants to check what our most recent numbers are, they can always be found on our website.