Fuel 10k Chocolate Chunks Granola

overall rating:

0.6

planets

Ceara Harper
2/21/2022
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Disappointing, could do a lot better. Fuel 10k makes a small range of breakfasty-snacky products including muffins, porridge, bars and granola. There are several flavours of granola like peanut and mocha, but this review will focus on their chocolate chunks one. 400g of the stuff ranges between £2-3 depending on where you buy it from, making it average to slightly-above-average price, so still accessible to many. Initially, I thought Fuel 10k severely lacked transparency as I couldn’t find any information on sustainability readily available on their website. However, if you dig deeper and use the search bar you can come across a somewhat sparse ‘Environmental Policy’, ‘Ethical Trading and Human Rights Policy’ and ‘Anti Bribery and Corruption Policy’, which I’ll explain later – Fuel 10k please make these more easily accessible and comprehensive.

 

 

What it's made of:

0.7

Suitable for vegans, this granola is mainly made of whole grain oat flakes (45%) plus dark chocolate (6%), pumpkin seeds (2%) and various other sweeteners and preservatives including ‘natural flavouring’ – whatever that may be. Fuel 10k has also added vitamins to their granola such as B1-3, B5-6, B9, B12 and E. Unfortunately, this product is not Organic, which means the ingredients are likely to have been grown with the use of fertilisers and pesticides. These are highly detrimental to the environment and farm workers, leading to future food instability and so are not sustainable. 

 

Fuel 10k does not explain where its ingredients are from. As it is a UK company, I guess they get their oats in the UK but I don’t know for sure. Oats in the UK are a low input agriculture with a low carbon footprint but a moderate water footprint (2,536L/kg oats), so this is a relatively sustainable food source. Fuel 10k have not explained the sourcing of their cocoa, and this is concerning as cocoa production can be highly problematic if not done responsibly. Child slavery, forced labour, deforestation, biodiversity loss, soil erosion, habitat destruction and significant carbon emissions are a common part of the majority of cocoa production for Western consumers, with less than 0.5% of global cocoa production being organic and only 12% of chocolate sales in the UK being Fairtrade. Why don’t you tell us where your cocoa is from, Fuel 10k?

 

Packaging and waste wise, Fuel 10k have done slightly better. The box housing the granola is cardboard and the plastic sleeve is recyclable. However, as most of UK plastic sent for recycling is not recycled it would be better if this plastic could be replaced with an alternative. They say their cardboards, polystyrene and plastics are sent to specific recyclers and their inkjet cartridges are sent back to the provider.

 

How it's made:

0.5

Fuel 10k has put minimal information concerning their manufacturing process on their website, and the information doesn’t seem to be available elsewhere. Until this information is made available, we have to assume that fairly standard granola production is carried out, so I’ll explain the process as per a patent assigned to the Quaker company. First, the oats and other ingredients are baked in an oven, reducing their water content to around 2%. A sugar solution is prepared separately, made with adding water and the syrups of choice together. The solution is then heated to near boiling point to evaporate the water, leaving a final moisture content of around 2% – this is called the binder. The binder and the other ingredients are combined and heated to more than 100°C to give a mixture that is then broken into smaller cubes. These cubes are then spun in a cylinder with some of the other dried ingredients to break it up into the characteristic granola chunks.

 

There is no information on the carbon footprint of their factories to make the above product, or what type of energy they use, or any information on the transport of the finished goods. As this is the case, we have to look at data published for other cereals. A lifetime assessment of Kellogg’s breakfast cereals showed that their facilities added a further 23% to the product’s total energy consumption and that the addition of cocoa increases the global warming potential of the cereal product by 65% if the land’s use is changed to produce cocoa. Furthermore, Fuel 10k’s environmental policy is lazily short and lacking in detail or significant meaning. To me it sounds like greenwashing. Phrases are used such as, “buildings occupied by us are designed, constructed and operated to optimise their environmental performance” or “environmental issues are considered when making decisions” and “phasing out, where practical, ozone depleting substances and minimising the release of greenhouse gases”. But little has been done on Fuel 10k’s website to show data or examples of work they have done to prove or improve the sustainability of their company. Except for the reduction of plastic on their porridge pots, which was good news.

Who makes it:

0.4

Fuel 10k is a certified B-corp, which apparently means it’s “met the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability”. I find this somewhat hard to believe from the information available to the public about Fuel 10k and its products. Fuel 10k has an ‘Ethical Trading and Human Rights Policy’ that is also directed to all suppliers. However, it is only ‘expected’ that all suppliers ‘will strive’ to meet the standards outlined and that each supplier is responsible for ensuring that all their own suppliers meet these standards. It doesn’t appear as if there are checks to ensure these standards are being met. In the policy it states that child labour should not be used, but as cocoa production has often been found to involve child labour and as Fuel 10k’s cocoa is not certified as Fair Trade or similar, this raises concerns. Furthermore, there is no information on the gender pay gap.

 

Overall, I am disappointed by Fuel 10k’s lack of transparency and meaningful action. It is all very well to be certified as a B-corp company and to have ‘green statements’ on your website but without visible sustainable action it does appear that Fuel 10k are greenwashing. The sourcing of their ingredients, methods of production and energy consumption needs to be made public.

 

Sources:

1.     https://fuel10k.com

2.     https://fuel10k.com/pages/environmental-policy?_pos=1&_sid=1206431e5&_ss=r

3.     https://fuel10k.com/pages/ethical-trading-and-human-rights-policy?_pos=2&_sid=4ce1725bf&_ss=r

4.     https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=BB%2FH009582%2F1

5.     https://healabel.com/o-ingredients/oats

6.     https://www.bcorporation.net/en-us/standards/development-and-governance

7.     https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/media-centre/blog/10-facts-about-fairtrade-chocolate/

8.     https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/news/plastic-recycling-export-incineration/

9.     https://www.mightyearth.org/wp-content/uploads/Chocolate-Report_english_FOR-WEB.pdf

10.  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352550915000238 

11.  https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/oct/20/chocolate-industry-slammed-for-failure-to-crack-down-on-child-labour

12.  US7169422B2 - Manufacture of granola and snack-food products - Google Patents