Lara Bars are a mixture of fruits, nuts, and spices, have only two to nine ingredients, and are non-GMO and dairy-free. On their website, there is virtually no recognition for corporate sustainability and no responsibility taken for the impact they may have on the environment. Although Larabar bars avoid chemicals, preservatives, and are unprocessed, their bars are not sustainable enough. There is a lack of sustainability and transparency in their manufacturing process; Larabar does not disclose their carbon footprint, where they are getting their ingredients from, or what equipment they use to produce their bars. For a company that has such strong food values and a desire to be open to their audience, it is disappointing to see that Larabar lacks information regarding their production process, treatment of workers, and any significant efforts they have made to be sustainable. As many of their ethical statements are ambiguous and lacking, and I would like to see Larabar take first steps to be more open with their consumer audience. Good initial steps would be disclosing the sourcing of ingredients, manufacturing methods, and future plans Larabar hopes to enact to be sustainable.
Larabar’s Chocolate Hazelnut Swirl bar is made of eight ingredients: dates, hazelnuts, almonds, semisweet chocolate chips, pears, cocoa powder, sea salt, and vanilla extract. For their products and bars that contain chocolate, Larabar sources their cocoa and chocolate chips from Fair Trade USA, a company using sustainable and ethical farming practices. On their website and packaging, Larabar is transparent about what their bars contain, listing whole ingredients and extensive nutritional information. However, Larabar does not specify where they source their ingredients from - there is only information on where they source their chocolate and cocoa powder from, but no information regarding their sea salt, almonds, or other ingredients. Furthermore, dates are the main component in each Larabar, and there is no transparency on how the dates are sourced, grown, or harvested, making it concerning to me that the consumers are not being told where the most important ingredient in the bars are coming from. Thus, there is no way for consumers to know if the dates they are consuming are ethically or sustainably sourced.
To make the Chocolate Hazelnut Swirl bar, the eight ingredients mentioned above are ground and mixed together. The bars are not baked or cooked, and the bars are unprocessed. Juices and concentrates used in bars like their Key Lime bar or Blueberry Muffin bar comes from pure lemon juice and pulp, and blueberry concentrate comes from pasteurized blueberries. However, Larabar does not specify where they source their fruits or concentrates from. It is also disappointing to see that there is no sustainability statement regarding their manufacturing process or any sustainable goals they want to achieve. As for sustainable packaging, Larabar has partnered with TerraCycle to make their bar wrappers recyclable, and their display boxes in grocery stores are recyclable and made from wind energy. In 2008, Lara, the owner of Larabar, sold the entire company to General Mills. To me, it seems like General Mills wants to maintain the appearance that Larabar is still like a small, local company because it is difficult to find information about General Mills owning Larabar. Furthermore, as General Mills is a much larger corporation, sustainability and environmental awareness may not be prioritized in Larabar, as Lara is now merely an advisor for the company. Information about General Mills is not mentioned on the packaging or main homepage of the website, and there is a lack of transparency regarding the General Mills team running Larabar. Although Larabar is not sustainable enough at the moment, the companies that Larabar partners with have admirable sustainability statements. Fair Trade USA, where Larabar sources its chocolate, hopes to meet six United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through their standards, and Larabar’s packaging partner, TerraCycle, is dedicated to upcycling, reusing, and recycling waste.
According to their website, Larabar headquarters are in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but do not detail exactly where the bars are manufactured. The most information I could find on Larabar factories was that Larabar has a factory located in Belvidere, Illinois that has a steadily growing workforce to produce bars. Larabar’s website further explains that their bars are distributed through Small Planet Foods located in Minneapolis. Regarding the lack of information about their factories, it is concerning to see that Larabar does not specify who is working in their factories or how they reinforce fair labor conditions.