Sustainable Brands

- by Deepika Sundresh

In October 2018, the European Parliament approved a ban on a list of single-use plastic products, with few more products in line for reduction without a complete ban, thus making it lucrative for companies that provide an alternative for plastic. Primary among them is Finland’s own Sulapac, placing their claim on this market with their 100% biodegradable plastic made from Nordic forest wood. 

Sustainable brands have been around for a while, even before the term sustainable has been on the market.

Why is a sustainable brand better? Not only do they give the buyer more value in the long term for a product, but on a company level, sustainable business practices give the company a purpose, and over 73% of employees seemed happier working in such companies (survey conducted by Deloitte).

What is a sustainable brand? Any brand that designs its products with an added environmental value and social benefits can be deemed as one. It is indeed a daunting task to pick a truly sustainable brand from the numerous brands that cloak themselves under the name.

According to sustainability brand index*, these companies have shown admirable initiatives and labeled top sustainable countries in Nordic and Scandinavian countries. So the next time you’re grocery shopping, keep an eye out for these brands: Valio, Kotimaista, Fazer, Myllyn Paras, Elovena, Paulig, Oululainen, Arla, GoGreen, Orkla, Löfbergs, Barilla, Danone, Estrella, Felix, Findus, Marabou, Oatly, Pågen, Pringles, Risenta, Pirkka, Santa Maria, Semper, Valio, Arvid Nordquist, Koskenkorva, Lipton, Ben & Jerry’s, Carlsbergs, Mars, Dr Oetker, Skyr, Wasa, Becel, Bertolli, Borges, Urtekram, Innocent, Finax, and Haribo (just some of the sustainable brands available)!

To make the best out of your shopping, check also What’s behind sustainable labels?

OPEN DATING - MYTH VS FACT:

Have you ever purchased something that was half off because it was close to its expiry date? Even so, you haven’t fallen sick after eating? A study conducted by Harvard probably has the answer why.

In 2013, Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic released a study stating that the labels only indicate the best time to consume a product, but it need not necessarily be spoiled. The US consumer watchdog Food and Drug Administration (FDA), says that it does not require food firms to place ‘expired by,’ ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ dates on food products.

This information is entirely at the discretion of the manufacturer. One argument made is that the dates are simply in place to make the products sell faster, and that consumers buy more products. Better understanding and use of date marking on food, i.e. "use by"and "best before" dates, by all actors concerned, can prevent and reduce food waste.

SO WHAT DO THESE TERMS MEAN?

>> Use by: A use by date on food is about safety. This is the most important date to remember. Foods can be eaten until the use by date but not after. You will see use by dates on food that goes off quickly, such as meat products or ready-to-eat salads.

>> Best before: The best before date, sometimes shown as BBE (best before end), is about quality, mainly. The food will be safe to eat after this date but may not be at its best. Its flavor and texture might not be as good.

>> Expiry: This is a predetermined date after which something should no longer be used, by law. However, random expiration dates are also commonly applied to product coupons or promotional offers. Here, the function of the date is more of a business concern, than that of product safety.

A recent study carried out by the European Commission, published in February 2018, estimates that up to 10% of the 88 million tonnes of food waste generated annually in the EU are linked to date marking. While buying groceries as per open dating has a somewhat positive side to it, meaning that today’s consumer is aware, the more worrisome effect is that the "buyer beware" mantra is overstretched, making the consumer paranoid about the dates, and likening the dates to the sole indication of the product quality.

You are ultimately the judge of the product. If you’re unsure, it is best to discard it. Unless there is rancidity, alcohol development, abnormal development mold seen on the product, it can be said that it is safe to be consumed.

The next section - Food Security gives you further insight into this concept, read on!

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