Overall, this product is much more sustainable than non-organic versions, especially with its plastic-free packaging. Planet Organic’s product sells at £5.69 for 250g of organic dried mango slices. A couple of alternatives include Tesco that offers the same organic product (with non-recyclable plastic packing) for £5 or £3.75 for a non-organic version. If you’re already buying organic, you might as well pay a slight premium for more sustainable packing. Whether the premium for buying an organic product is worth it will depend on how much you value sustainability and health-related concerns.
Mangoes aren’t inherently bad for the environment. Their greenhouse gas emissions data suggest that they are comparable to other fruit and veg like tomatoes and carrots. Most of their emissions (60%) come from how it is made (i.e. from fertilisers and transportation).
Dried fruit can also be stored for a lot longer than fresh fruit which reduces food waste, which is the biggest environmental footprint food. Their reduced water content means they weigh less so require less fuel to transport, reducing its carbon footprint. By nature, dried fruit happens to be better for the planet which results in the products higher than average rating for sustainability.
As with all of Planet Organic’s own brand products, its mangoes are organic. Organic farming is better for the planet for reasons such as improving soil health (organic soils are around 25% more effective at storing carbon), not being harmful to wildlife and ecosystems due to no pesticides being used in its farming (which makes the product safer for consumption too). The choice to produce products organically gives the product a high rating.
The process for drying mango (hot air drying) requires quite a lot of energy to obtain a high enough temperature to dry the fruit; the use of a gas or solar dryer will greatly impact how much CO2 is emitted with an average solar dryer saving 5000kg CO2 per year compared to gas. It is unclear which of the two Planet Organic’s own suppliers use; this lack of information reduces its score.
The fact that the product is imported from Burkina Faso and Senegal may seem like the emissions generated from the distance travelled will be higher, but given the naturally warmer climate this reduces the amount of manmade energy needed to grow the fruit making the product more environmentally friendly. Another added benefit is that it generates income for families in these countries that are among the poorest in the world, further boosting its score.
Packaging wise Planet Organic uses a vegetable based material that is home compostable and GM free, so will not take hundreds of years to decompose in landfills or oceans. It claims to break down completely in the soil or compost facilities and leave no toxic residues behind making it less bad than plastic. The main issue would be that it is inherently single use; however, opting for recyclable packaging would likewise not be ideal given the UK’s poor plastic recycling system where over half of its plastic is not recycled so this increases its score overall.
Planet Organic’s objectives include promoting organic and sustainable eating to improve soil health, increase biodiversity and avoid harmful pesticides as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions and waste. It has been criticised in the past for being hypocritical by throwing away waste food and not treating workers well both in terms of pay and treatment by senior management; however, it has adopted initiatives that address both of these issues. It limits its food wastage by working with apps like Olio and Too Good To Go to redistribute unsold leftover food, and it composts inedible food waste which gets used by regenerative agriculture farms. Likewise it has initiatives to limit waste from packing such as its packaged range of refillable goods, and its compostable takeaway packaging. Planet Organic has also since increased its wage to a competitive level.
Planet Organic is keen to emphasise how all of its own brand products and food or drinks it serves from its kitchen are organic and natural and meet certifications that indicate its quality and organicness (e.g. it is Soil Association certified). However, it also offers non-organic products which seems to go against its branding, but it does disclose this fact albeit you have to scroll a little further to see it. The company’s generally robust sustainability practices give it a fairly high rating overall.