Organic and ethical food pioneer Alara Wholefoods has become the first cereal manufacturer in the world to declare the Scope 3 (CO2e) – the most demanding measure of carbon emissions – of its products. At the same time, the company is offsetting the embedded carbon in its branded products through an innovative partnership with the Charity Rainforest Saver, which works in Central Africa and South America to conserve rainforests and alleviate poverty.
Embedded CO2 is rapidly becoming a high priority for food manufacturers and Alara believes brands should be taking responsibility for the full carbon trail of their products.
The company has been working with researchers at the University of Westminster to collect data and calculate the CO2e for all of the ingredients used in its branded products.
Most sustainable SKUs in the world
The CO2e declaration appears on-pack on Alara’s new Grow Back Greener selection of affordably priced organic breakfast cereals, which it says are “the most sustainable SKUs in the World”.
Putting the development in context, Alara’s founding director, Alex Smith, said: “Our view is that climate chaos, though slower developing than the current pandemic, is potentially much more devastating. To ameliorate the huge contribution that food and farming make to global heating, food businesses must start taking responsibility for the embedded carbon in the food they produce. You can’t take responsibility unless you measure what the Scope 3 CO2e is”.
“The CO2e declaration appears on-pack on Alara’s new Grow Back Greener selection of affordably priced organic breakfast cereals, which it says are “the most sustainable SKUs in the World”
As well as declaring the CO2e of its latest products, Alara is working with the charity Rainforest Saver to offset the embedded carbon in its new range, while protecting and returning to health pristine rainforest in South America and Central Africa at the same time.
Rainforest Saver employs a pioneering farming technique known as Inga Alley Cropping. A sustainable alternative to destructive slash and burn farming, it involves the planting of rows – or alleys – of Inga trees, and growing crops in the space between the rows. Native to tropical areas, the Inga tree is highly effective at ‘fixing’ nitrogen in the soil, creating a continuously fertile piece of land. The trees are coppiced down each year, a process which helps capture and build soil carbon.
Alex Smith again: “Over a 20-year period an Inga tree will sequester half a ton of carbon, which is about 1.9 tons of CO2. Now, because of the way we are working with Rainforest Saver and paying for Inga trees to be planted, we are offsetting the embedded CO2 in the products we are selling.
“While these Scope 3 CO2e emissions are impossible to accurately measure for each ingredient 100% of the time I believe the food industry as a whole needs to seriously engage with this work in a transparent way.”
Grown Back Greener Range
Alara’s new Grow Back Greener range comes in four variants – Apple & Cinnamon Bircher, a creamy Bircher with sweet apple; Crispy Fruit Muesli, a crunchy mix with dates and coconut; Fruits & Seeds Muesli, with linseeds, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds; and Original – an evolved copy of the recipe used in Alara’s first ever cereal product, produced in a squat in London’s Tolmer’s Square in 1975. All four products are organic and come in plastic-free packs, with retail pricing at £2.70-£3.29 for 650g.
About Alara Wholefoods
Alara Wholefoods is one of Britain’s best known sustainable food businesses. Alara was founded in 1975 by Alex Smith with £2 he picked up in the street. £2 was what it costs to get a van into New Covent Garden, from where the fledgling enterprise would recover discarded fruit and vegetables to sell in a squatted shop. The shop became one of the country’s first wholefood stores. And it was where Alara began to experiment with its first muesli recipe, which would set the company on a course to become the country’s leading organic muesli manufacturer. In 1988, Alara became the first cereal company in the world to be certified organic. In 1993, it produced the first certified Fair Trade cereals for both Traidcraft and the Alara brand. A string of ethical and sustainability ‘firsts’ followed. 45 years on from its modest beginnings, the Alara business continues to challenge itself daily to be the ‘Most Sustainable Food Manufacturer on Earth’.