Alara Wholefoods’ new Net Zero Food range of cereals is the culmination of 45 years’ work in sustainable and organic food production, says the company’s founding director Alex Smith.
Commenting on the launch, Smith says: “Building on Alara’s previous championing of organic, zero waste, plastic free and the use of green energy we have launched what we believe is the first genuine iteration of net zero food”.
Net zero leader
Alara was one of the first food companies in the world to begin the transition towards net zero food production. Over the last five years the company has worked in this area with a team of tutors and students at Westminster University, and in 2020 started a project to research the embedded carbon (CO2e) of the 21 raw ingredients in the new Net Zero Food range. From the results, the company now reports the CO2e for each product, which is printed on the packs of each of the new lines.
At the same time Alara has been offsetting the embedded carbon in the products through its partnership with the charity Rainforest Saver. Working with indigenous farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and Central and South America, 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. The trees are coppiced down each year, a process which helps capture and build soil carbon. Rainforest Saver is currently working with the UN to validate the average CO2 sequestered by each Inga tree and also the correspondence between contributions made and trees planted.
These two elements have provided Alara with the tools to calculate the embedded CO2e of its products, offset it, and therefore achieve net zero food. “In this way,” says Alex Smith, “the new Net Zero Food range represents the culmination of 45 years’ work in sustainable and organic food production.”
Communicating the importance of being net zero carbon in easy to understand ways is itself a challenge. To make net zero meaningful to its own customers, Alara has created a series of graphics that show how C02e emissions accumulate across the food value chain, and easily relatable comparisons between its Net Zero Food range and other popular types of breakfast. Using a light bulb example, fried eggs and bacon (with 740g of carbon) are shown to have a CO2e equivalent of leaving a light on for 17 hours, avocado on toast (with 280g of carbon) equates to 6.5 hours, while the 0g of carbon produced by Alara’s Net Zero Food range is represented as a permanently switched off light bulb.
Making affordability part of the conversation
Affordability and accessibility were also key goals during development of the new four-product strong range. Alex Smith again: “Affordability is not often part of the organic conversation. But at Alara we want to show that organic is both good value and, in many cases, genuinely affordable. I also believe we have a responsibility as a movement to make organic accessible to as many people as possible. Alara’s Net Zero Food range offers a great entry point to organic, while delivering fully on quality, taste and ethics.”
With retail pricing at £2.70-£3.29 for a 650g pack, a 70g single breakfast portion costs around 30p. “We think that’s a very affordable price for a nutritious breakfast made from high-quality organic and responsibly source ingredients,” says Smith.
Alara’s new Net Zero Food 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.
The range is packaged in card from sustainably sourced wood, with ‘no plastic’ garden-compostable enclosures.
Main image: Relatable CO2e comparisons between Alara’s Net Zero Food range and other popular types of breakfast