Overall, the cashew milk ice cream from So Delicious (while tasty) is not something I would label as sustainable. It has clean ingredients and is what I would call “consumer -facing sustainable.” Everything the consumer sees and holds - the ingredients, the packing - are relatively sustainable and planet-friendly, and So Delicious is pretty transparent in this department. It is only when you take a deep dive into their company that you see where their transparency stops. They have very little information on their sourcing, giving me very little to go off on in the “how its made” and “who makes it” departments. Most often, companies are only quiet when they have something to hide, so I have to assume they are not making any great efforts to ensure sustainable sourcing and fair working conditions. I was really disappointed in So Delicious because they have a great tasting product that they could make so much better with increased transparency and sourcing efforts.
The first ingredient in the faux ice-cream is cashews, and most cashews have two main problems: the high amount of water used to grow them, and the common unsafe labor practices involved in their production (which I will focus on more in the “Who makes it” section). Cashews use about 1,704 gallons of water per pound, while other dairy alternatives like oats use 304 gallons of water per pound. The choice to use a less environmentally-friendly base would normally incline me to take off points for a product, but So Delicious’s allergen page indicated that they are on a mission to make desserts available to people with unique dietary restrictions, and they do offer oat milk ice cream options, so it seems that their choice to use cashews might be in an effort to make a product for people with wheat allergies. None of the other ingredients seemed to be a cause for concern (I liked that coconut oil was used instead of palm oil, the cheaper but less sustainable alternative often used). The ice cream is certified organic, gluten free, vegan, kosher, and UTZ certified, meaning that the cocoa was grown on farm audited for better farming and labor practices, but I could not find any concrete descriptions of what UTZ defined as sustainable. It is packaged in FSC certified cardboard, meaning that the forests from which the trees for the cardboard were cut were managed in a way that gave some protection to wildlife, water sources and native people.
I was pleased to see that So Delicious had a sourcing page, something that many companies don’t bother to do. When I explored it though, I was a bit disappointed. It really just goes over the food-grade certifications that they have (non-GMO, organic, vegan, gluten free, etc.) which is helpful to know and generally reliable, but doesn’t really say anything about the actual locations their ingredients are sourced from. This information wasn’t listed anywhere else that I could find, even after going through their parent company, White Waves Food Company, and their parent’s parent company (grandparent company?) Dannon. It feels like they know sourcing is something they should be transparent about, but aren’t actually willing to take actually action. Dannon (and therefore So Delicious as well) is a certified B-corp, and therefore must meet requirements for their impact on workers, community, customers and the environment, which was a positive though. I would still like to see a lot more transparency from So Delicious in the future.
This section is where So Delicious was truly lacking in transparency. They had virtually no easily-accessible information on who makes their products and what standards they as a company implement as far as fair pay, workplace safety, and protection from workplace discrimination. I expected at least a statement as far as their stands, considering some of the other ways in which this company has been transparent, but there was nothing. Dannon as a whole has a 31.1 score out of 40 in the workers category from B-corp (which is above average), but it has many subsidiaries that that score is derived from, and that is certainly not enough for me to just So Delicious off of. Additionally, many ingredients in the cashew-milk ice cream would have to be sourced from other companies, and they make no claims about making sure that they only source from places/companies that have worker protection. This is especially concerning for a cashew milk ice cream, because cashew-processing can be a very dangerous task that workplace protection is especially important for.