Meridian is a company known in the UK for producing the largest range of nut butters from a single producer. Being a brand looking to appeal to the health conscious, environmentally savvy and taste centric consumer they offer quite a unique product for the market. Not only this, they are the first company in the UK to offer palm oil free nut butters, in fact, their entire range is palm oil free. This ties into their flagrantly displayed effort of environmental awareness, frequently emphasising their partnership with “International Animal Rescue”. During this partnership Meridian have contributed to the rescue of 5 orangutans and the replanting scheme for 50,000 trees in Ketapang, West Borneo. A consistent effort for environmental awareness is made when purchasing and viewing their product online, this is something I really appreciate because awareness is key to initiating change. A problem with this product and the others for me is that although there is contribution to animal and environmental welfare, there is not a lot said about workers and their carbon footprint as a whole. In fact, this product is not fair trade certified, nor is it possible to find any information on emissions. This to me is unsettling and is something they should look to change or be more transparent about. I could only score 1.7 planets here as although I like the environmental efforts made, I cannot come to terms with the fact that the product is not fair trade or similarly certified, and that the tub it comes in is still a plastic tub. Meaning there are improvements to be made across all three sections of my review, and it would be amazing to see some efforts to improve on each of them independently.
This peanut butter much like the rest of their brand takes a real emphasis on being raw, so much so, the only ingredient in this peanut butter is skin on roasted peanuts. There are no added sugars, sweeteners or salt of any kind, and definitely no palm oil. The product is POFCAP (Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark) certified, meaning no palm oil is used in this product. This raw approach is used as it means the flavour is pure, natural and delicious. It also means a healthier product, something which is stressed on their website, with plenty of information given about the benefits of natural fat in a good diet. Apart from the actual peanut butter the product is packaged in a plastic tub. This tub is recyclable, not only these consumers are encouraged to use this tub creatively such as a temporary plant pot. These ideas both extend the product life cycle but also still keep the opportunity for recycling afterwards, which to me is a great idea although the use of plastic is still not ideal. In smaller size options for this product glass tubs are available, which is a better option in regards to sustainability. It would be good to see some action from Meridian to target this, maybe by opting to be plastic free in their larger tub range too. This is an aera I feel they should work on, rather than placing the life cycle extension task on the consumer. An idea could be that you can return your tub to Meridian to be refilled once it is finished, maybe at a discounted rate.
Meridian imports it’s nuts to their factories in the UK, located in North Wales. Here the skin-on nuts are roasted, and then ground to the “almost (but not quite) smooth” consistency. This product is also organic, which means lower levels of pesticides can be used, its “working with nature not fighting against it”, by using no artificial fertilisers and herbicides. The environmental impact of this being an organic product is that the land used to grow the peanuts is more sustainably managed, biodiversity is less affected by the changes. To me the product being organic in this way is great, as the harsh knock-on effects of invasive non-organic agriculture can damage biodiversity in the area around it. The problem for me is that a non-organic version of this product is offered, at a lower price, this of course will be important to Meridian as a business, but I believe its something they should strive to change, and try to pressure other food producers to do in the same way. In general, this is an expensive choice of peanut butter compared to its other competitors, and is used by the health and environmentally conscious consumer. So their target market is someone who is willing to spend more for both the world around them and what’s going on inside them. This why I think making that move may not be too detrimental, or may even encourage more people with this mindset to start using their product, but will result in a more environmentally beneficial product as whole.
The peanuts for this nut butter are sourced from “Far East, China”, whereas the non-organic version is sourced from “America/South America”. Meridian are very transparent about where all of their nuts are sourced, and make it easy to find and see this on their website. What is lacking though, is some transparency on the details of who grows their nuts, and the conditions they are grown in. After some research online, not on their product site, I did find they have an ethical labour policy but I could not find any more detail other than that they have one. This is worrying to me, as if their labour activities where to a good standard they would surely be advertised in an obvious way like their environmental activism. If it is the case that their working standards are to a high-quality Meridian should lead by example and show it off, if they are not, they should show and explain the steps they are taking to improve on this. That level of openness would be appreciated by me and other consumers alike, providing no information at all just makes me think the worst. After their peanuts are grown, they are processed in the UK in factories located in Wales. I like that this process has not been outsourced, it means local jobs are made available, but also that working conditions are to a good standard. This is because they abide by EU regulations, which provide strong measures in working/living wages, worker rights and working conditions. Here I would find it hard to criticise what they are doing; bar looking to streamline and reduce emissions for their production process as a whole.