Candy Kittens was founded in 2012, who wanted to make ‘gourmet sweets’ that appealed to adults in quintessentially British flavours, such as strawberries and cream. They are my favourite sweet brand; I was surprised to see that they did not already have a review on Voiz, considering how they advertise that they are palm-oil free, vegan and carbon neutral on the packaging. As a result of this, the company asserts that these have a lighter footprint on the Earth, which is definitely important considering the climate emergency and other problems regarding environmental degradation. At round £3 a pack, they are not accessible to people who want to shop sustainably but do not have a disposable income. Plus, all sweets must be enjoyed in moderation to live a healthy lifestyle. The optimist in me believes that this high price goes towards purchasing ethically-sourced ingredients or funding fully electric logistics networks, but there is no any information regarding that. Candy Kittens deserve credit for offsetting its carbon emissions and promoting sustainable lifestyles. However, I do think they can do better in a few different areas, especially regarding transparency, to prevent the likelihood of greenwashing.
The ingredients read: sugar, strawberry juice, coconut water, acids (malic acid, citric acid, lactic acid), potato protein, sweet potato and apple concentrates, hydrolysed pea protein, sunflower oil, carnauba wax. They are also packaged in a plastic pouch.
The entire line is vegan. Although I am not a vegan myself, I can appreciate the environmental impacts of reducing animal product consumption, as this puts less pressure on the environment and its resources, like water. The company removed gelatine and beeswax from these Eton Mess sweets, making them vegan. Removing palm oil is also an environmentally friendly decision, as tropical rainforests experience extensive deforestation to make space for palm oil plantations. Plus, adding pea protein to any vegan product is a great way to get additional protein, a food source that is more likely to be lacking in any plant-based diet. Although that shouldn’t be used as a justification to eat nothing but these sweets, you must appreciate where effort is put in.
Some ingredients on this list are slightly more problematic though. This is because there is practically no transparency provided to make me believe that these ingredients are being sourced sustainably. For example, the coconut water. The world’s top coconut producing country is Indonesia, followed by Philippines and India; these are places where workers are also subject to exploitative low wages. Plus, coconuts require lots of water to grow, which can stress the livelihoods of small farmers. There is no information to reassure a consumer that coconut water is being sourced sustainably and ethically.
Another problematic ingredient is carnauba wax – it is native to northeast Brazil. This means that carnauba must be exported to international places, releasing a significant amount of emissions. This is clearly not environmentally sustainable. Poorer areas which are much more vulnerable to farmer exploitation, deforestation and price drive down from large companies. Because of this, workers are potentially earning very little pay, living precarious and unsustainable lives. However, Candy Kittens has joined the 'Initiative for Responsible Carnauba', which tries to improve working conditions and preserve biodiversity. I think it would be interesting to do an in-depth study on this initiative to explore how sustainable they really are.
The plastic bag is made of OPE/PE plastic, the same material as plastic bags, which can be easily recycled at carrier bag collection points. Using On-Pack Recycling Labels (OPRL’s), a not-for-profit company which produces supposedly simpler labels, they are making it easier for consumers to recycle. However, in the UK the recycling rate has consistently stayed at about 43% since 2010. Essentially, OPRL’s don’t contribute anything to sustainability if the essential recycling facilities are not there. More importantly, these companies cannot shift the blame on consumers: Candy Kittens themselves should be taking responsibility to shift towards reusable or biodegradable packaging. Plus, despite these being degradable, they can take up to 30 years to completely decompose, completely undermining the point of being recyclable.
These sweets can be found primarily in the UK but are beginning to reach more extensive markets. Candy Kittens are produced in Germany and packed in the UK. There is no information provided about how the sweets are made at all or how they are transported from Germany to other places in the world. I believe it is more likely that this product is transported by aeroplane or trucks, which run on lots of carbon intensive fossil fuels, rather than electric trucks (much more environmentally friendly).
The company has continued to reduce their emissions from production and logistics. They calculated that the plastic pouches generated a disproportionate amount to the product’s carbon footprint. Candy Kittens has addressed this by making the packaging fully recyclable and by reducing the mileage of their transport fleets. I do not think this is enough information to determine whether Candy Kittens operate their sourcing, processing and delivery processes sustainably. Unless they can provide more transparency to back up the things they claim, like through an annual sustainability report and increasing the traceability of their ingredients, I genuinely cannot score them any better.
Candy Kittens was developed by Made in Chelsea stars Jamie Laing, and Ed Williams. They launched in 2012 and have always specialised in high-quality vegan and vegetarian sweets. Since then, they have made their entire vegan, transitioned to recyclable packaging and even promise that they are climate neutral.
They have achieved carbon neutral status by calculating their carbon footprint. They have partnered with an external company called ClimatePartner, a company that promotes emission transparency through calculating carbon footprints. By having a set number of emissions to mitigate, they have proceeded to offset them by investing in projects that support green energy technologies and restore the ocean’s ability to store carbon. With this, the company has successfully offset over 1 million kg CO2 as of September 2021.
There is absolutely no information available on other measures of social sustainability, such as worker condition or gender pay gap. This suggests to me that they have something to hide.
Overall, I can appreciate that Candy Kittens do try in many areas to achieve sustainability. However, they can certainly do better regarding transparency, otherwise I am inclined to assume that they are greenwashing.