The unforgivable sin of green washing is a major concern for the ecologically inclined consumer in today’s world. Our time is one where a claim to be eco-friendly is frequently employed as a way to do nothing more than win over shoppers. For this reason, those of us with a keen eye for faux green need to look thoroughly into a company’s claimed sustainable practices. Some are leading the way. Others are merely pretending. So, what better place to start then with perhaps America’s most well-known food producer, Kraft Foods Company?
While the company website offers an abundance of convincing information on how earth friendly its practices are (and supposedly always have been), I am admittedly on the fence as the company’s true green identity. Should Kraft be given a green stamp of approval or is it a ploy to do little more than be in good standing with the general public and increase sales?
Kraft supplies a gauntlet of information
to read through. But, here is a condensed overview of how Kraft is (supposedly) keeping the earth happy.
Within the “Sustainable” subcategory of the “Responsibility” button on the Kraft homepage, there are four major areas of focus: Better World, Agriculture Supply Chain, Environmental Policy and Climate Change. These four topics apparently address the approach to developing food today while being wary of the needs of tomorrow. After all, the site reads, “At Kraft Foods, our sustainability journey has put us on a path that is making a real difference.”
This area of the Sustainability category offers viewers a nifty little interactive page where various supply chain strategies are said to be under critical review to find the greenest practices. The “approach,” “focus” and “progress” of Kraft’s green thinking is discussed here, but what is perhaps the most convincing is the statistical data
in that illustrates a 12-21% reduction in energy consumption, emissions, water consumption and packaging over the last few years.
Agriculture Supply Chain
Here, one can learn from case studies of how Kraft is making the world a better place through its approach to growing coffee, cocoa and cashews, as well as animal rights and welfare. This section offers some promising talk due to Kraft’s claim, “Our current efforts to promote sustainable farming focus on developing countries in Africa, Latin America and South Asia. These are areas where we feel we can have a meaningful impact with commodities such as coffee, cocoa and cashews.” While there is really no way to learn the truth behind such statements without traveling to the sources of these foods, it does certainly shed some light on that green halo Kraft is promoting.
If there is an area where Kraft might be talking green without walking green, it is this section. This webpage only features three sentences, the longest of which reads, “Kraft Foods is committed to reducing the environmental impact of our activities, preventing pollution and promoting the sustainability of the natural resources upon which we depend, while providing quality products that meet the needs of our consumers.” Proclamations like this from big businesses are great, but without evidence to prove these convictions, the chance of green washing is high.
Finally! Big business is grabbing the bull by the horns and agreeing that, “The climate of our earth is changing. The planet is getting warmer. Sea levels are rising. Weather patterns are shifting. The planet’s natural resources are being depleted faster than they can be replenished. Clean water and fertile, arable land are becoming particularly constrained.” Good job, Kraft! This is a strong stance for a major business to take, and kudos to Kraft for doing so. Here you will also find the company’s approach to combating climate change via the Carbon Disclosure Project
. Even a call to action graces this section, when Kraft argues that, “Everyone needs to contribute — governments, businesses and individuals.”
So, what do you think? Is Kraft an industry leading eco-advocate, or a [k]rafty green-washing conglomerate? Does the online content solidify the company’s position as a leading role player on how to merge business and conservation? Or, maybe the proof is in the pudding… in the grocery store… next to the unnecessarily packaged snacks.