Magnum Vegan Ice Cream

overall rating:

1.7

planets

Vedika Mathur
7/17/2022
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Summer is here full force and we all know what that means - ice cream!! And much to my delight, the variety of ice cream just keeps growing and growing, especially as the plant-based market continues to expand in light of increasing consumer awareness and a call for more corporate sustainability.

Magnum is a global top-selling ice cream brand, with a net worth of $61.03 billion that has been around since 1989, and is now owned by international companies like Nestle and Unilever. Their vegan Magnum bars were first launched in 2018 as part of veganuary, and has firmly made its way into ice cream trucks and supermarket shelves by 2022. If you had told me 10 years ago that there was such a thing as ‘dairy-free’ ice cream, or plant-based meat burgers, I wouldn’t have believed you. I’m already impressed with the ice cream market for diversifying their product range to cater for people that are lactose intolerant, or don’t eat dairy for health, ethical and environmental reasons. The dairy industry is notoriously cruel and unsustainable. Milk intended for their calves is stolen from mother cows, who are separated from them at birth and artificially inseminated over and over again, while male cows are sold as meat. Destructive farming techniques also result in ecosystem destruction and biodiversity loss as land is cleared for grazing livestock and hundreds of gallons of water are used in the production of dairy. For example, 300 gallons of water is needed to make one Starbucks Frappuccino!

Seeing an established and mainstream brand like Magnum display such a promising review really paves the way and sets the standards for other players in the market to follow suit.

What it's made of:

2

In terms of ingredients, Magnum prides itself on the fact that they use Rainforest Alliance certified vanilla, working closely to source the vanilla pods from local farmers in Madagascar, with the supplier ‘Symrise’. They have also committed to sourcing 100% of their cocoa from Rainforest Alliance certified farms in Ecuador and Ghana in the future, which currently stands at 98%.These certifications ensure that products are made while considering communities and the environment - as stated in this extract from their website: ‘By using more thoughtful farming practices, protecting waterways, and using only biological and natural pesticides, our farmers help protect their farmland for future generations’. 

I would like to see their sugar certified as well, because it is a significant component that is going completely unspoken for, which lets this section down.

The main difference in ingredients between regular and vegan magnums is the use of coconut oil and pea protein. The coconut oil they use is not fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance certified, which is really disappointing, given all the initiatives they have in place to sustainably source their vanilla and cocoa. The use of pea protein is promising though, because it is more sustainable than other plant-based proteins, such as soya protein, because it requires lower transportation costs and emissions, because peas are grown more easily in Europe’s temperate climate. 

 

It’s also great to see that Magnum has diversified their range of vegan ice creams, because having multiple options = people are more likely to switch and try something new. 

 

 

I was so impressed by Magnum’s packaging commitments, they are truly leaders in their field, being the first ice cream brand in the world to use recycled polypropylene plastic (rPP) in their tubs. This has reduced their overall use of plastic, saving 747,000kg of virgin plastic from being produced – which is equivalent to 42 million, 500ml water bottles. The  ice cream sticks are made from FSC* & PEFC** certified sustainable wood, and their cartons are made from recycled fibre, which is widely recyclable after use. Even the tamper seals are made from aluminium foil, which is recyclable. They have pledged that by 2025, they will have achieved the following 3 goals:

  • Eliminate any unnecessary and problematic plastic packaging

  • Design 100% of the plastic packaging fully reusable, recyclable or compostable

  • Increase the use of post-consumer recycled plastic material in the packaging

 

How it's made:

0.3

Unfortunately there is no information provided regarding how they source their dairy and sugar for their ice creams - and although the dairy isn’t relevant in this case, it is still disappointing to see that Magnum displays a lack of transparency here, because dairy based ice creams still occupy the majority of their portfolio. Where they source their dairy is extremely important, because there is potential for the farm to be incredibly harmful, or a sustainable local business.

 

I dive into the positive community farm initiatives they have committed to in the next section, but ultimately the production of the ice cream is very separate from the sourcing, so I am not counting towards this section. 

 

Magnum is an international brand, and has a large carbon footprint because they are shipping their products across the globe - and they haven’t acknowledged this impact publicly on their website. The ice creams are made mainly in Germany, in the Heppenheim Factory, where 20,000 magnums are made every hour. The production process is energy intensive, but Magnum has implemented energy efficient motors, and saved 60% of energy by reducing their compressed air consumption. This is promising, but I feel like they could be doing much more. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything on the treatment of their factory workers in Germany or anywhere else - and this lack of information brings this section down even more.

Who makes it:

1.8

Magnum’s approach and branding around their new vegan range is commendable. The company has always talked about ice cream being a pleasure that we should enjoy wholeheartedly, and the vegan range is about how everyone should be able to experience this. I like how they aren’t demonising dairy or greenwashing about how this was an environmental move – which wouldn’t make sense anyway as they still sell dairy products. 

 

Their community work is also commendable, and the reports surrounding their work in supplying communities is well presented and readily available. 

Magnum claims to be committed to having a positive impact across West Africa by caring for the lives of cocoa farming families ‘ by providing higher incomes and better access to education through a cash transfer programme with not-for-profit charities like 100 Weeks’. They have also partnered with Symrise and Save the Children for the ‘Vanilla for Change’ initiative to support 40,000 people across 76 villages in Madagascar by providing health insurance, run training programmes and support education for the communities’.

 

However, Magnum is also owned by Unilever and Nestle, which are large international corporations that are both known for their unethical past and negative environmental impact. For example, Unilever has numerous issues with factory farming, animal testing, poor workers rights and for contributing significantly to plastic pollution. Similarly, tax avoidance, animal abuse and extensive illegal deforestation has been attributed to Nestle, especially in Ghana’s cocoa plantations - which is where Magnum sources their cocoa from too.



To summarise…..

 

Overall, I feel that Magnum is an industry leader in terms of their sustainable packaging, positive branding and detailed community initiatives. The vegan ice cream bar has proved successful and I am excited to see the range expand, with other brands following suit. I think it is disappointing that they are associated with Unilever and Nestle, who could be doing much much more in terms of ethics and sustainability, given their profits and global reach. This also begs the question of whether Magnum should be doing more too, considering their high net worth and connections - I would like to see more transparency around the sourcing of their dairy and sugar, and more attention to their large carbon footprint.