Wunda Original Plant-based Not Milk

overall rating:

2

planets

Shandana Khan
2/11/2022
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Consumer demand for dairy alternatives is increasing, and with it comes an ever-growing selection of plant-based products to choose from. This is especially true when it comes to milk alternatives. Each variety of non-dairy milk has its own nutritional profile, with different protein, carbohydrate, and fat content, as well as vitamins and minerals. Between 2009 and 2015, global sales of non-dairy milk alternatives more than doubled, reaching $21 billion, reflecting both consumer demand and the growing range of products available to suit that need. An increasing number of research shows that dairy milk has an adverse impact on the environment than plant-based alternatives. For instance, according to Poore & Nemecek’s research, for every litre produced globally, 3kg of greenhouse gases (mainly methane) are released into the atmosphere. That’s roughly equivalent to driving 10 miles for every litre of milk consumed.

With increased customer demand for sustainable products, food and beverage industry is under constant pressure to come up with products that are environmentally friendly. Addressing this, Nestlé, world’s biggest food and beverage producer, recently introduced Wunda Original (Part of their sustainable brand Wunda), a plant-based milk alternative that is sustainably produced and certified as carbon neutral by the UK Carbon Trust. Nevertheless, Nestlé remains to be one of the most controversial companies over environment degradation and human rights violations.

What it's made of:

2.3

The Wunda Original plant-based milk alternative is made of pea protein, which is the main nutritional fundament of the product. Other ingredients include chicory root, sugar, sunflower oil, Tri-calcium, Phosphate, natural flavours, and vitamin B2, B12, and D. Nestlé sources its yellow peas from France and Belgium to extract protein, which is the main ingredient in their sustainable product line. Out of all plant-based milk alternatives, yellow pea has the most nutritional protein value as well as is the most environmentally friendly to grow. For example, pea milk has 1/100th of the water footprint of almond milk and produces 1/5th of the carbon dioxide emissions. Similarly, soy milk negatively affects soil life and requires mechanical ad chemical inputs making it less sustainable. Of course, one cannot forget the deforestation soy farming is causing. Pea, on the other hand, utilises nitrogen and makes plant cells thus requiring less fertilizer. Overall, Wunda Original is a better alternative than other plant-based milks.

Despite the parent company’s efforts to source its ingredients sustainably, there is persistent controversy pertaining to the violation of environmental standards for its product manufacturing. For example, sunflower oil is relatively environmentally friendly to extract, yet in some compositions, it contains palm oil, which is one of the leading causes of deforestation and is widely used in Nestlé’s products.

How it's made:

2

Nestlé claims sourcing its ingredients as per the Responsible Sourcing Standard. Their 2020 report shows 82% traceability for its grains sourcing, however, that leaves 18% (100,000 tons) of sourcing still untraceable. Nevertheless, Wunda is a carbon neutral product line using 100% renewable energy for its manufacturing operations. The producer uses FSC – Certified fibres for its packing cartons and continues to use its R&D for alternative materials to optimise its packing design. An interesting concern raised by the company is the consumers responsibility to recycle. However, it is a grey area as a corporation cannot greatly rely on how end consumer disposes the packaging after use.

Wunda Original has 0.58 kg of carbon dioxide emissions per litre, which is more than some of its competitors. The brand puts its relatively higher CO2 emissions to higher protein content offered by their product (0.2kg CO2 emission per gram of protein). In the brands efforts to reduce and remove its carbon emission through nature-based solutions, it is also counteracting its impact by high quality carbon credits. Overall, Wunda’s GHG emission removal is aligned with Nestlé’s roadmap of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

 

 

Who makes it:

1.7

Wunda is an ambitious part of Nestlé’s carbon neutralization goals. In 2018, Nestlé reported its carbon dioxide emission at 113 million metric tons in 2018. 95% of this emission was caused by its supply chain. By 2030, the company aims to cut its emissions by 50% and 100% by 2050. Nestlé has incorporated the UN SDGs into its operations by collaboration with academics, suppliers and start-ups to explore technologies that can lessen their carbon footprint. In recent years, Nestlé has avoided using over 45,000 tonnes of packaging materials, phased out 92 percent of industrial refrigerants, and cut energy usage per tonne of product by 26 percent across the organisation.

Wunda is part of one such step taken by Nestlé towards sustainability. The brand was first created as part of Nestlé's R&D Accelerator programme. Nestlé's 'intrapreneurs' designed and scaled-up the Wunda Original pea-based beverage in six months, using a start-up approach. The product was formulated with the younger generation in mind and thus the start-up approach almost aligns with the theory of the product itself.

Apart from Nestlé, Wunda, itself has invested in the Southern Cardamom REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) project in Cambodia. The initiative educates communities how to live in harmony with the environment and provides them with a source of income via conservation and restoration.

Despite such steps, Nestlé is still not popular for being sustainable. In fact, the company has a notorious reputation for the opposite. As of 2019, Nestlé was named one of the top three plastic polluters of the planet. Over the years, the company has faced major boycotts over issues like child labour and human rights violation among others, yet their PR machinery has been quite active to cover their tracks. The good news, however, is that the investors, regulators, and environmental organisations are putting growing pressure on the food and beverage industry to operate in a more sustainable manner leading companies to respond by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing water consumption, eliminating plastic packaging, and breaking relationships with deforestation-linked cattle, palm oil, and other raw material suppliers.

 

Overall, 1.7 is a reasonable score considering Wunda’s design, sourcing, and manufacturing and yet accounting for its parent company Nestlé.