Jeni’s Ice Cream is an environmentally conscious and transparent corporation that has a variety of ice cream flavors sourced from Direct Trade Partners. Although Jeni’s is making strides in their transparency of packaging and ingredients I believe Jeni’s could go above and beyond by reducing the carbon footprint of the transportation of their products.
Jeni’s Ice Cream finds pride in sourcing its ingredients from Direct Trade Ingredients. Direct Trade Ingredients from Fellowship Model suppliers include 40,000 pounds/year of heavy cream from Arps Dairy, 20,000 pounds/year of yogurt from Arps Dairy, 11,000 pounds/year of blackberries from Stalbush, with many more ingredients that they source from known farmers. Jeni’s Fellowship Model explains that a community of people create Jeni’s Ice Cream. From growers, farmers, and makers. I believe this model is a great model for other corporations to follow as every food company should know who they are getting their ingredients from and how they are made. For one, Jeni’s sources dairy from an Ohio family-owned dairy farm, Berg Farms where the cows are grass grazed. They also source their diary from another Ohio farm, Arps Dairy.
For packaging Jeni’s is making strides in their zero waste initiatives in their storefronts. Jeni’s uses paper bowls, napkins, compostable spoons, and reusable metal tasting spoons. Jeni’s sources the compostable materials from corn. They also make a statement that says they work to reduce food waste; and have put into place composting all waste from their customers and the store. There are composting partners with active websites which I applaud Jeni’s on for being transparent in this area. Jeni’s explains that in some areas there are a few shops where composting hasn’t been started due to a lack of compost partners, space restrictions, or other factors. It is great Jeni’s is being transparent but it could improve in these areas. I am a regular customer of Jeni’s and I am skeptical about the ‘compostable’ spoons. Many ‘compostable’ or ‘biodegradable’ labeled utensils are usually required to be taken to an industrial composting facility that is transporting these items and creates greenhouse emissions; which defeats the purpose of composting. In this area of waste, I would advise Jeni’s to re-evaluate their utensil sourcing to either reusable spoons or another option. For this reason, I would rate it 2.5 planets.
Jeni’s Ice cream is made from Direct Trade Ingredients along with the Fellowship Model from sourcing their own ingredients from known partners instead of using ice cream mixes or flavors. Milk and cream is purchased from these partners and pasteurized in-house. To create a new flavor of ice cream each recipe is tweaked by adding fat, sugar, or flavor to achieve the desired texture or flavor. It should be highlighted that Jeni’s Ice Cream has seasonal flavors which go with the flow of the seasons instead of using out-of-season ingredients which may be ingredients sourced from far locations.
For Jeni’s transportation of the manufacturing plant to stores nationwide it is not made transparent. There are 47 storefronts nationwide and ice cream distribution available to over 3,000 nationwide grocery stores. This makes me wonder what Jeni’s could be doing to reduce their carbon footprint with transportation? How does the ice cream stay cool throughout transportation and does this increase Jeni’s carbon footprint? According to Yang, Refrigerated trucks or vans have a higher Co2 and nitrogen oxide emissions by 15 percent. Jeni’s also has shipping available nationwide which is shipped with dry ice to keep cool. What is the packaging for this include and is this sustainable?
For the manufacturing process, Jeni’s does not make it transparent what it entails. A general ice cream manufacturing process entails blending the ice cream mixture with its flavors and ingredients, pasteurizing the mix which heats the ice cream mix to high temperatures for 30 minutes which can use lots of energy. Then the mixture is further homogenized to make the ice cream smooth. Then the ice cream is aged or cooled overnight. After the ice cream is aged, it is ready to freeze in large barrels or batches. Air is added to the ice cream to make it light and fluffy. This general manufacturing process uses lots of energy to mix, heat, freeze, and add air to the product. Does Jeni’s work to reduce their energy consumption in this process? Jeni’s details what its ingredients are, where they are sourced but not their manufacturing process, and how they could improve their sustainability efforts in this area. I believe Jeni’s could be more transparent in their manufacturing process, which is why I give 1 planet.
Jeni Britton Bauer opened her first ice cream shop in 1996 and soon after founded Jeni’s Ice Cream in 2002. Bauer is the founder and Chief Creative Officer and is still very involved in her business. Jeni’s is a certified B corporation which according to B Corp Certification means, “meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials.” On their website, they explain a certified B corp as an “evolving company”. In Jeni’s year in review for 2020, they display acts of social justice, like writing a letter declaring racism a public health crisis to Columbus City Council concerning the killing of George Floyd. Jeni’s also explains that they support their communities by raising money for the Columbus Food Service and DoSomething.org. Along with diversity statistics of who makes up the company and their anti-racist program within the company to include all into the conversation. Jeni’s displays effort in being transparent with consumers about packaging, ingredients, and supporting their communities for this reason I rate 3 planets.