NadaMoo! seems to talk the talk rather than walk the walk when it comes to sustainability. There website left me with more questions than answers about specifics behind some of their claims about sustainable ingredients and lack of supporting evidence. NadaMoo! as a company has clear sustainability goals but they leave a lot to be desired with their proof of sustainability versus deceptive tactics I will happily give NadaMoo! a higher ranking if they address some of the critical issues that I bring up in my review, but for now too much remains unknown for me to rank them higher.
Organic coconut milk, water, organic agave syrup, tapioca syrup, organic inulin, organic cocoa powder (processed with alkali), almonds, sugar, rice flour, tapioca starch, arrowroot powder, non-GMO canola oil, coconut oil, sorghum flour, xanthan gum, vanilla extract, organic guar gum, cocoa powder, sea salt, organic locust bean gum, natural flavor, carrageenan, soy protein. NadaMoo!’s take on rocky road ice cream is a certified organic delicious vegan treat. The creamy chocolate ice cream is tasty but light and paired with almonds, chocolate chunks and marshmallows; it holds up to its milk counter part while being inherently better for the environment too. While avoiding some of the environmental pitfalls of traditional ice cream, such as intensive water and usage along with worsened green house gas emissions, there are still plenty of places where NadaMoo! can step up. While priding itself on sourcing sustainably grown ingredients and prioritizing low impact ingredients, NadaMoo! leaves a lot to be asked for. The signature ingredient in all of their pints is coconut milk, which gives the pints their creaminess without actual dairy. NadaMoo!‘s sustainability page cites that their coconuts are grown in Thailand, without the use of added water, pesticides, or fertilizers, and that the coconuts are harvested without cutting down the trees, presumable leading to perennial harvesting, and a minimized land impact. After the coconuts are harvested and deshelled the leftover coconut shavings are converted into a biofuel. Now this all sounds well and good but NadaMoo! needs to specify who their suppliers are and what practices they follow. Nadamoo! needs to have that transparency in their chain in order to prove that their sustainability claims are credible.
There are about 12.5 million hectares of planted coconut trees on Earth, and because they are usually grown in areas that are hotspots for endemic species, coconut trees have a strong negative effect on tropical species abundance. For example, every million metric tonnes of coconut oil produced threatens 20.2 species, compared to palm oil which threatens roughly 3.8 per million metric tonnes of oil produced, even though palm oil has greater land coverage at 20 million hectares. This is again because coconut trees are planted in areas with higher biodiversity, making it incredibly important to ensure that companies source responsibly; transparency about coconut farming practices and preventing deforestation should be a top priority. I think that Nadamoo! can do a lot to improve here, at every turn of their sustainability page I am left with vague sustainability claims and zero supporting evidence. I would like to see NadaMoo! make information about their suppliers readily available, otherwise there is no way to know if their coconuts are catalysts to the destruction of our tropical forests. I think Nadamoo! should also work towards involving their suppliers is a regenerative agriculture program, such as ReCAP, which builds soil health and also ensures just conditions for workers. We need to invest in coconuts that do not result in the destruction of our forests, and Nadamoo! could be a part of the solution.
NadaMoo!’s second most important ingredient is their agave syrup, from the blue webber agave plant. These plants are excellent because they use water with great efficiency and are also deft CO2 capturers. Agave has a unique harvesting process which involves waiting ~7 years for the plants to mature, removing the outer spines, and then harvesting the massive (up to 100lbs!) center or piña; NadaMoo! makes sure that the left over agave is turned into fertilizer. I would again ask NadaMoo! to provide more information about their suppliers who are based in Jalisco, Mexico and second, I would ask them to participate in agro-forestry with their agave plants. Since agave is native to Mexico, growing it for consumers is easier to integrate into the local environment. Agave plants along with native nitrogen fixtures can replenish degraded soil all while supporting a desert ecosystem and providing agave for consumers.
The packaging of NadaMoo!! uses Evergreen Packaging (EP) Sentil ice cream cartons. The paper board for the cartons is made from forests that were sustainably harvested and where preservation of soil productivity and regeneration were prioritized, according to EP’s ‘Fibre Procurement Policy’. Additionally the coating around the NadaMoo! cartons is made from sugar cane plant waste. The carton is still destined for landfill on the consumer end, but it is at least made of materials that can be regenerated, unlike plastic production which depletes a finite fossil fuel supply. Once again the details on NadaMoo!‘s end are a vague and not accompanied with much supporting data. Just a few of the questions I have are ’where is the sugar plant waste coming from?’. ‘is it from a process that is planet depleting?’. Also if the goal is to make a more sustainable container, I think that NadaMoo! should invest in making their cartons commercially compostable. It is notable that they wanted to make their product recyclable, but were unable to because of lacking recycling infrastructure. As such, the use of plant based ingredients is certainly a step up from plastic, but we still need to reduce our waste being funneled towards to landfills.
After harvest the piña is roasted and crushed, producing agave nectar. NadaMoo! claims that “80% of the water used to process the agave is recycled water” which I assume refers to this process. Additionally they “save 30% more energy by using solar panels in agave farming”. Once again NadaMoo! touts sustainability but does not follow up with evidence or context for their statistics. I am left with a vague feeling of sustainability, but disenchanted by the lack of accountability behind their claims.
For the coconut milk I am unsure of exactly where the coconuts are processed, though the outer husks are turned into biofuel. The standard process of creating coconut milk involves dehusking, deshelling, and peeling the coconuts to reveal a white inner kernel. This kernel is washed and grated into flakes and then pressed to extract the milk. NadaMoo! co-packs with other sister ice cream companies, meaning that they share facility equipment, which reduces resource demand. However, NadaMoo! is also in charge of numerous food streams, and is a company that is invested in growing. I was not able to find any information about sustainable practices with in these factories, such as renewable energy usage, which should be a prioritized goal. Once the coconut base of the ice cream is made it is then separated into distinct flavors, packaged, and sent out to stores. I would love to see NadaMoo! take efforts to increase renewable energy usage in their facilities, at a minimum. It is at the forefront of a growing industry of plant based products and they should invest in beneficial practices in areas through out their chain, and supply information for it.
On the NadaMoo! career page we are once again given fluff without any explanation or concrete details. I thought that this was odd because they are a certified B-corp and fair trade certified. NadaMoo! has a strong sustainability message on their website, but it feels unfulfilled by their actions. They either need to celebrate their environmental achievements with more concrete details and evidence or take steps to further support there environmental friendly claims.
NadaMoo! was originally started by food entrepreneur Amy Ramm in her effort to make a vegan ice cream for her lactose intolerant friend. Daniel Nicholson, the now CEO, was introduced to NadaMoo! at its home scoop shop in Austin, Texas. Nicholson was immediately captivated by NadaMoo! and decided to invest in it full time; prior he had been an engineer exploring the renewable energy sector. NadaMoo! still reps itself as a family business but the message feels cold and hollow upon visiting their About Us page. Nicholson is also interested in growing NadaMoo! or potentially selling to a larger corporation. I truly want to believe that NadaMoo! stands for integrity and justice in their work place and operations, but I am left uneasy with some of their corporate pillars that plague transparency and put the environment in the backseat. If NadaMoo! wants to lead the sustainable frozen dessert revolution, they need to step up!