The Meatless Chorizo Sausages from Simple Truth Organic (a Kroger Brand) have many sustainable elements. With fine-tuning and showing continued commitment to sustainability, Simple Truth and Kroger can make these Meatless Chorizo sausages a very sustainable option. The ingredients are decently sustainable, particularly when compared with pork chorizo’s animal farming. The price is also very comparable to its non-vegan alternatives, at generally $3.99 for a pack of four sausages. Kroger talks a big talk about sustainability, and their 2020 ESG report paints a pretty positive impression on their commitment to improving sustainability, both environmental and social. Continuing to hold them accountable to this track will be very important, as they’re a huge corporation with the power to make a big difference in sustainability.
A comprehensive list of ingredients is provided for the product, with about 15 ingredients total. The first ingredient listed is just filtered water. Some other dominant ingredients include wheat gluten, safflower oil, wheat protein isolate, apple cider vinegar, and a variety of spices. Simple Truth prioritizes short and easy-to-read ingredient lists, and they accomplish this well with the ingredients for the Meatless Chorizo. Many plant-based meat products contain numerous additives, but this product’s ingredients are pretty basic. Most of these ingredients are pretty sustainable. Safflower oil could be substituted for a more sustainable oil, as it has a fairly high water footprint and moderate carbon footprint.
The Meatless Chorizo is also ranked a 67/100 on the OptUp Nutrition Rating, a rating system formatted by Kroger to help consumers gauge healthiness of products. This rating means Meatless Chorizo falls into the middle category, a sort of “not bad but not great for your health” realm. Kroger lists that reasons products can decrease in healthiness include added sugar, sodium, calories, or unhealthy fats. My guess for this product is that it has a high sodium level. This has an interesting connection to sustainability. If consumers are looking to this product to replace meat and thus the benefits of meat, the Meatless Chorizo should ideally meet the health and quality standards of meat. If the product isn’t super healthy, consumers might not stick with it in the long run or be willing to fully switch over to it from pork chorizo.
Simple Truth prides their brand on being organic, and notes that their products are certified USDA Organic. However, the Meatless Chorizo product doesn’t display the USDA certification logo anywhere on its packaging. The brand’s heavy focus on their products being organic but this product not displaying the certification seems dubious. Because of this, it’s safer to assume that the Meatless Chorizo’s ingredients are not organically sourced. If they are, more transparency from Simple Truth would be helpful. It also has the “Free From” badge, which is a label applied by Simple Truth to indicate that the product is free from over 101 artificial preservatives and ingredients (you can read a long list of those ingredients at https://www.kroger.com/b/simpletruth/why-simple-truth/free-from). It also touts itself as being “Non-GMO”, which is another big marketing point of Simple Truth. This isn’t a super compelling selling point for me, as humans have genetically modified our food since the dawn of agriculture. Many of the “organic, non-GMO” ingredients that make up this Meatless Chorizo wouldn’t look anything like they do today without genetic modification and artificial selection.
Simple Truth lists requirements on their website related to the manufacturing of their products. Some of these include being produced without synthetic fertilizer or prohibited pesticides, be produced by organic growers, and to be free of artificial preservatives. These have hints of sustainability in them, but don’t commit to environmental sustainability as much as is needed. I would love to see requirements relating to sustainable sourcing, sustainable waste management, and factory sustainability added to the list.
Simple Truth is a brand within the much larger Kroger conglomerate. Simple Truth posits themselves as being the organic facet of Kroger. Like many large corporations, Kroger walks the line between genuinely caring about sustainability and greenwashing. In the past, Kroger and Simple Truth had instances where the integrity of their goals and “organic” label was questioned. For example, they settled in a 2014 lawsuit alleging that one of their poultry products was sourced from inorganic means. However, Kroger’s sustainability page and goals are extensive and give me hope that they’re committed to sustainable practices and growing their company’s sustainability. The 2020 Kroger ESG Report is both thorough and super promising for their sustainability. Long term goals like zero-waste, zero-hunger, climate impact, water reduction, packaging, and more are contained within the report. Each big goal is then dissected into smaller action items, and Kroger has rated themselves on their progress toward that item. Kroger also highlights the fact that these goals largely stem from the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
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