At last fall’s United Nations (UN) Climate Change conference, food giants like Mars and Mondelez vowed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. One increasingly popular path to help hit these targets is launching a carbon neutral food and beverage product, like Mars did with its CO2COA chocolate bar and Mondelez did with NoCOé, a French carbon neutral snack brand.
While there are different certification programs available, for a food and beverage product to achieve carbon neutral certification, its manufacturer typically compensates for all of the carbon or greenhouse gasses (GHGs) emitted during its production and delivery. The company first calculates the emissions and then purchases carbon credits or invests in carbon offsetting projects, such as renewable energy efforts.
Some food companies even set their heights on a net-zero strategy, which is achieved when a business removes more GHGs from the atmosphere than it produces, but all in-house. No matter the strategy, consumer demand for sustainable food products is growing, so food and beverage companies must find ways to meet this demand. Here are three carbon neutral food and beverage products.
1. Bud Light Next
This year, Anheuser-Busch debuted Bud Light Next, a zero-carb and zero-carbon version of its flagship beer. Last month, the company announced that Bud Light Next completed the process to become “Climate Neutral Certified” after it measured and offset last year’s GHG emissions and introduced plans to reduce its emissions in the future. It will be Anheuser-Busch’s first carbon neutral beer, which the company said will help it fully reach its goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2040.
The beer giant worked to achieve this certification with Climate Neutral, a nonprofit that helps brands develop solutions for cutting their GHG emissions. To offset its carbon, Bud Light Next is supporting forest management efforts, including a project led by timber company UPM Blandin in Minnesota. Anheuser-Busch said consumers will be able to see the Climate Neutral Certification on cans starting this summer.
Conagra Brands’ frozen foods company Evol recently made a sustainability push by announcing the carbon-neutral certification of eight Evol frozen meals in June. The company received carbon-neutral certification from Carbonfund.org’s Carbonfree Product Certification Program, making it the first single-serve frozen offering to achieve that status. The items receiving this certification include one new offering, Give Cheese Alfredo Mac with Chicken, along with products already in its portfolio.
Evol is offsetting the carbon used to make the meals through investments in renewable wind energy and forest preservation projects. The company previously switched from plastic to recyclable paper bowls in order to improve the sustainability of its packaging. The Evol products are part of its pledge to reduce Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions in its supply chain by 25 percent by 2030.
3. Neutral Foods
Bill Gates-backed startup Neutral Foods debuted its Neutral Milk in over 500 Whole Foods stores across the country last November. According to the company, it works with dairy farmers to lower carbon emissions in the milk production process by working to change what cows eat in order to manage the methane that they emit. According to the dairy brand’s website, Neutral’s whole milk amounts to 22 pounds of carbon offset, while its 2 percent milk offsets 20 pounds.
Neutral announced last fall that it had raised $4 million in a funding round led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures — the climate-focused venture capital arm owned by Bill Gates — and with Shark Tank star Mark Cuban participating. “Neutral is a game-changer,” Cuban said. “It’s a unique solution that can feed us while protecting us. It’s a program that I’m proud to be part of.”