Nakd bars are promoted as a healthy snack that contains little to no processing and ‘100% natural ingredients, 100% of the time’. With a pack of 4 costing £2, they are an accessible alternative to other sugary snacks like chocolate – this helps them become more sustainable as a good amount of the general population can afford them. However, there is a complete lack of transparency from Nakd about their sourcing, production and distribution networks. This makes it difficult to determine whether they actually are sustainable. I believe that by increasing the amount of available information it will be much easier to get a clearer idea – until Nakd does so, it simply suggests that they have something to hide.
Nakd advertises that these are made with 100% natural ingredients with no additives at all. The ingredients read: Dates 49%, Cashews 31%, Raisins 17%, Raspberries 3%, natural flavouring.
Date and raisin production in general is relatively sustainable, with no known significant damage to the environment as long as pesticides have not been used – these contaminate water and soil. Also, cashew growth is extremely water intensive, with 14,218 liters of water used to produce 1 kilogram of cashews. Labourers also experience a tough time farming cashews: anacardic acid is present in the fruit, which burns skin. Also, many workers live on the poverty line, especially those in Vietnam and India – this makes the production unsustainable due to the negative impacts on small farmers’ livelihoods and potential for exploitation. As Nakd gives zero information about their farming practices, there is no way to know for sure that their ingredients are sourced sustainably or their farmers are treated well.
On their website, Nakd clarifies that natural flavouring is from things like cocoa, cinnamon or nutmeg. These bars are accessible to many diets, as they are dairy, wheat and gluten free, alongside being vegan. Despite not being vegan myself, I appreciate the fact that they are, because they are available to the widest possible audience. Growing plants takes up much less land and water than animals. Therefore, not consuming any animal products helps reduce pastoral land and water usage, reducing the pressures that agriculture puts on the environment. Hence, any diet that tries to reduce animal product intake is more sustainable.
However, none of their ingredients are fair trade or organic due to “production costs and the difficulties of sourcing these ingredients”. In 2018 they took £3.2 million in profit, which could certainly be used to try to shift towards more sustainable ingredients. The plastic packaging is also not recyclable at all and Nakd have made minimal commitments to change that.
Nakd advertise that everything is sourced ethically, but provide zero information on how and where their fruit and nuts are sourced. This is particularly concerning, as it is difficult to justify whether a company is sustainable when no sourcing details are provided. This is because it is difficult to identify whether there is an exploitative or environmentally degrading relationship between Nakd and its farmers. I would urge Nakd to be more transparent about their sourcing and how they decide which farmers to partner with. Until then, I genuinely cannot score them any better.
Nakd bars are made in a factory in Buckinghamshire, in the UK. As they are predominately sold in the UK, this significantly reduces transport emissions, allowing the product to be distributed by road transport rather than more polluting methods like aeroplanes. This information was not available on Nakd’s website, I had to find it on Tesco’s website. I believe that Nakd should have this information available on their website, for easier transparency for consumers.
Nakd promotes that they process everything as little as they can and do not add any artificial sugars or preservatives. This means a lot of time and energy can be saved in the production process – a Nakd bar only takes 35 minutes to make, compared to 6 hours for an oat snack bar. This reduces overall emissions, labour time and promotes efficiency.
Asides from this, I could find no information on Nakd’s carbon footprint, transportation methods or how they make their bars outside of the UK. For a brand that promotes that it ‘does good’, it has little to show for it.
Nakd was owned by Natural Balance Foods, who started making healthy wholefood alternatives to processed foods in 2004. Lotus Bakeries (the same people who make those delicious Lotus biscuits) bought 2/3 of Nakd in 2015. Their intentions are still the same: to make healthy, non-processed snack foods. However, based on my research, I am inclined to question their ethos.
Nakd openly supports many causes, donating a portion of their profits to different charities. Some of these charities include Animal Aid, Teenage Cancer Trust and Action against Hunger – by supporting a variety of different charities Nakd can try to do the most good.
Over the past few years, Nakd had planted more than 10,000 trees of over 150 different species in Brazil and Burkina Faso. They are working with communities and local NGOs via an organisation called WeForest. They do this to restore forest landscapes and offset some of their carbon emissions. No value is given for how much carbon these afforestation projects actually do offset.
Compared to the earlier sections, Nakd appears to be much more sustainable. There is a disappointing lack of information on their website. I genuinely believe that if they were as good for the planet as they claimed to be, they would be more willing to share the efforts they are putting in.