Krispy Kreme Vegan Doughnuts

overall rating:



Vedika Mathur
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Krispy Kreme is a global company, which started as an American doughnut chain, founded in 1937. The ‘Original Glazed’ doughnut can be found in 1000 locations across the world, including Canada, Indonesia, America, Japan and Malaysia. The net worth is now an estimated $4 billion after being acquired by the JAB Holding group in 2016. Their main brand ethos is ‘happiness through doughnuts’ and ‘giving back to the community’ as ‘fundraising and philanthropic work is at our core’ - so this review will see if they walk the walk as well as they talk the talk! 


They launched their vegan doughnuts in December 2021, and have four flavours, including their most popular Original Glazed - and it is really promising to see dedicated boxes with a range of flavours to provide people with exciting vegan options. They were launched with the aim of making their products accessible to people following plant based diets, and don’t address environmental or ethical concerns (presumably because the majority of their product portfolio is still un-vegan). There is also a dedicated section on their website and FAQ page for their vegan products, which shows that increasing their product range isn’t just an afterthought pushed to the side. 




Keep reading to see a deeper dive into just how sustainable Krispy Kreme’s vegan range really is!


What it's made of:


Vegan doughnuts are seemingly made by omitting their usual egg and milk ingredients, with no stand-out substitutes - which makes me wonder why this can’t be the default! Here’s the ingredient list if you’re curious. 

Doughnut [Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Calcium Carbonate, Iron, Niacin, Thiamin), Water, Dextrose, Palm Oil, Yeast, Salt, Wheat Gluten, Emulsifier (Mono and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids), Raising Agents (Monocalcium Phosphate, Dicalcium Phosphate), Sugar, Preservative (Calcium Propionate), Stabiliser (Carboxymethyl Cellulose), Firming Agent (Calcium Sulphate), Acidity Regulators (Ammonium Sulphate, Diammonium Phosphate), Flour Treatment Agent (Ascorbic Acid), Anticaking Agent (Tricalcium Phosphate)], Glaze [Sugar, Water, Calcium Sulphate, Agar, Dextrose, Locust Bean Gum, Disodium Phosphate, Flavouring (Vanilla), Salt]


They are already getting points for the vegan batter, because it eliminates the harmful egg and dairy industries. Nonetheless, Krispy Kreme boasts that all their eggs are 100% free range(which is a notoriously unregulated certification…) and pasturised in the UK, South Africa, Russia and Turkey, and aim to be 100% cage-free worldwide by 2026. They also sent 6 million pounds of food waste from their U.S. operations to pig farms for use as animal feed or to anaerobic digestion plants in 2020, as part of their food waste minimisation programme - another plus! However, they have no other bold commitments regarding their doughnut ingredients, which is disappointing.


They fry their doughnuts in a mixture of palm and sunflower oil, which they address directly, and partner with the RSPO to manage their responsible sourcing of palm oil.


‘Although Krispy Kreme Doughnuts does not source palm oil directly from palm mills / palm plantations, we will continue to work in tandem with our suppliers to ensure continued adherence to the above principles and standards. Our current efforts are focused exclusively on our shortening suppliers as they represent greater than 95% of our palm usage. We continue to work exclusively with the RSPO on our ongoing efforts to reach our goal of responsibly sourcing 100% of our palm oil - a goal we completed globally starting in 2015. 


They publish reports on their palm oil sourcing every few years, and from their 2020 report, there are no clear targets or progress being recorded, and Krispy Kreme remains acknowledging their impact rather than pushing through any action (as shown from this extract from their report below). Honestly, given their profits, reach and the vast amount of knowledge about palm oil sourcing, I expect more than just a partnership, but an entire plan of action on their website.  And I think the sugar should be certified.



In terms of packaging, they use recyclable folding cartons and paper carry-out bags, paper straws and compostable coffee cups.

How it's made:


In terms of the actual production process for the doughnuts, no information is given on the website. Youtube videos from business insider and buzzfeed show step-by-step production in a ‘behind the scenes’ way, but nothing there really speaks to the sustainability of the process itself.


The sustainable and energy-efficient features of their buildings are promising. They use high-efficiency HVAC units, LED interior lighting, lighting sensors and timers, and their stores are made from ‘sustainable building materials’ (that is a really vague statement, because ‘sustainable’ can mean anything). They also claim to have factory water and energy usage reduction programs, but don’t provide specific information about which factories and where, nor the % energy or water saved through their ‘sustainable’ measures.



Krispy Kreme claims to have happy employees in an inclusive, respectful and smiling environment. My research suggests that the validity of these claims depends very much on the store itself, the environment and managers etc - and there is no information readily available about factory worker’s experiences. This lack of information may just be due to high volumes of employees in various locations, but Krispy Kreme does try to adhere to certain health and safety standards: ‘ Incentives like 5* rated Anti Slip Safety Footwear (PPE) has been extended to all manufacturing employees with a significant reduction in slips and trips. All our employees are trained to Level One in Health and Safety and our Team Leaders and above are trained to Level Two. Our desire in 2020 is to up-skill all employees to Level Two and Team Leaders and above to Level Three. ‘

Who makes it:


I appreciated Krispy Kreme’s approach to this vegan launch, making the products the same price as their usual doughnuts to keep them as accessible as possible:

‘We strive to always provide the best quality and value to our customers and as such the new vegan doughnuts will be priced the same as other selected doughnuts in our range.’


It reminded me of how frustrated I get when I see coffee shops charging extra for plant based milks, like it’s some sort of luxury when providing more options should be the norm. I also like that they have a dedicated FAQ section for their vegan range, to help people be sure of their choice.


I was impressed by the range of the company’s community and fundraising initiatives, driven by their main ethos:

‘We strive to Be Sweet in all that we do to fulfill our purpose of touching and enhancing lives through the joy that is Krispy Kreme. We are committed to making a positive impact on our world by Loving Our People, Loving Our Communities, and Loving Our Planet.’


Here are just a few initiatives:

Krispy Kreme has partnered with SeriousFun Children’s Network, a global community of camps and programs serving children living with serious illnesses since 2019, providing free doughnuts, care packages and financial support.

They partner with UMM Al-Qura University to provide students with the opportunity to earn money and job skills while working at Krispy Kreme while studying.

Finally, they regularly partner with schools and community organisations to help them fundraise and sell doughnuts, and provided free doughnuts to healthcare workers on the front line during the COVID-19 pandemic. 



I think increasing product ranges to cater to more people’s dietary, ethical and environmental concerns is great, and it already is more sustainable than non-vegan items. But, I wish I saw plans for systemic change, to reform their business operations regarding responsible ingredient sourcing, energy efficient factories or reducing the mileage of their global carbon footprint (which isn’t mentioned AT ALL!) Their community initiatives, which are impressive, seem unrelated to the business’ sustainability and more offsetting their impact than proactively reducing it.