If you’ve taken a look at any of my reviews, you’ll notice that this is my second! peanut butter review! If you can’t tell already, I am a huge peanut butter fan, I am always on the lookout for new peanut butters so I couldn’t be more excited when I came across an eye-catching Yumello ad while scrolling through instagram. The timing was perfect, my last tub of peanut butter was nearing the end of its life, and I was looking for a new flavour... why not give this one a go? Oooh, salted date?! How could I resist?
Yumello is a fast-growing Bristol-based company founded in 2018 by Omar El Hajji and Esther Lopez. They have a range of ‘healthy and sustainable’ nut butters with big, bold flavours inspired by the recipes and ingredients of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, including salted date peanut butter and smoky harissa peanut butter.
When it comes to sustainability, I’d say Yumello is a pretty solid option especially for those local to the UK. The ingredients are minimal yet bold, with amazing taste and decent sustainability ratings. Although the company is quite new, it is clear from looking at their system and production line that sustainability is one of their core values, and although it may be on the pricier side, it is definitely worth a try for foodies looking for a new experience and are looking to support a relatively ethical and sustainable brand. I hope that Yumello continue to improve their shipping-packaging to reduce waste and eventually make their system 100% circular, as well as making sure that they are more detailed and transparent in their reporting of their sustainability goals and achivements to consumers.
The products arrived in a carboard box filled with shredded cardboard. I was initially taken aback by how much filling there was, however, I realised that cushioning was necessary in order for the peanut butter to be transported without spillage on impact. Furthermore, the use of mono packaging (where the filler material and the shipping box’s material are the same) of cardboard, is more beneficial as it makes it easier for the consumer to separate the packaging, making it more manageable to recycle the material for new packaging purposes. This is a much better replacement for filler like polystyrene foam, plastic filling or buffer material. Unfortunately, a few of the tubs were wrapped in a few layers of bubble wrap, which is neither biodegradable nor sustainable, unless they are kept for reuse. However, it is unlikely that most consumers would keep the bubble wrap for reuse and most of it would end up in landfill. It would be better if the company made sure that all their partnered delivery vendors ensured that all packaging is sustainable, because what is the point of a sustainable product if it is negated by the unsustainable packaging it is wrapped and delivered in?
The same concept of mono packaging applies to the plastic packaging the peanut butter is contained in, as all packaging (from their jars to their lids) at Yumello is made from 100% recyclable PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) plastic, this makes it much easier to sort and greatly increases the chance of the material being recycled. Being 100% recyclable also makes the system more circular, which is great for the sustainability of the product as it stays in the loop for a longer time. Furthermore, this non-toxic material is up to 10 times lighter than glass, reducing the carbon foorprint of its transportation. Although recycling PET can be very effective, only 38% of PET plastics are collected, and only 22% are recycled (2015 study). In order to combat this, it would be nice to see a product-service system that could perhaps incorporate some sort of subscription/refill system for the tub’s life to be extended through creating a more circular economy.
The ingredients in their Salted Date Peanut Butter include : Hi-Oleic Peanuts (86%), Dates (8%), Coconut Oil, Sea Salt (0.9%) - an impressively short list with 3 out of 4 of the ingredients identifiable in its title!
Hi-oleic peanuts only grow in a few places in the world - and Yumello source theirs from Argentina. They use them because “not only are they naturally sweeter than standard peanuts, but they also contain higher levels of mono-unsaturated fats (the ‘good’ kind), which help support normal cholesterol levels”, although this may sound like a good reason, it would be better if the company were able to find an alternative that was based more locally as importing ingredients from another country can be costly on the level of carbon emissions from transportation.
It is great to see another peanut butter brand avoid the infamous palm oil as it is a major driver of deforestation of some of the world's most biodiverse forests, causing devastating consequences for endangered species like the Orangutan or Sumatran rhino, as well as local indigenous communities. Aside from coconut oil, the business also sources argan oil, used in their smooth almond butter and crunchy peanut butter from partner co-operative Targanine in the Atlas Mountains of Mororcco. Targanine’s network of co-ops represent more than 300 Berber women who process the argan kernels to make the oil. Moreover, argan trees also play a crucial role in the battle against desertification in this arid region, and the success of the coops has halted deforestation.
In terms of the benefits for us humans, Moroccan argan oil is also rich in essential nutrients, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Argan oil has three times the amount of Vitamin E than olive oil, and is very low in saturated fats. I mention these benefits as it is important to remember that sustainability is not necessarily just about taking care of the environment, but it should also be about taking care of our personal health in order to be aligned with a more sustainable and healthy lifestyle.
Finally, Yumello have been very open and transparent regarding what their product is made of - from the raw ingredients down to the packaging. Their website is relatively informative and most of the information could be found easily.
Yumello peanut butters are made in Bristol, UK, with most of their consumers being from the UK. The fact that it is locally produced and minimally exported makes the product much more sustainable as the carbon emissions from transportation would be a lot less compared to some larger organisations that export internationally more frequently. The products are currently stocked by Ocado and Holland & Barrett, and the business is exporting to Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Bahrain.
All their products are made in CO2-neutral facilities in the UK, this is achieved by powering all their ovens and grinders by solar energy, drastically reducing their CO2 emissions.
According to an article, Yumello is “committed to sustainability and reducing the impact of FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) brands have on the planet.” This is a nice sentiment, unfortunately, it was difficult to find much quantitative evidence of their “commitment to reducing the impact of FMCGs” aside from a few sentences on their FAQ and Impact pages. Although this may be a red flag for many companies, it is important to recognise that Yumello is a relatively new company that was founded in 2018, and it is clear that they are taking strides to produce a sustainable product. It would be nice however, to see a more comprehensive summary of their goals and impact further down the line.
In an interview, Omar says “It’s easier to be more profitable when you don’t look after the planet and its people, but consumers are becoming more demanding of brands (as they should be). They want to know if brands consider all the different aspects of the business. We believe that brands that look after both profit and purpose will flourish.
Our aim is to create a responsible business leaving the planet better than we found it. We’re committed to a lighter footprint on the earth and making our products the right way:
Although their goals are quite simple, they are transparent and have clearly defined their goals and values considering that they are a relatively small and new company. They have demonstrated that a start-up like theirs can grow successfully, even if some ‘sacrifices’ need to be made in order for sustainability to be at the forefront of their goals.
As mentioned in a previous section, to help generate positive social impact in rural Morocco, Yumello work closely with partner organisation, Targanine, to empower over 300 Berber women by creating sustainable employment, ensuring labourers are paid fairly and providing education opportunities for the farmers. They are helping to change women’s lives by sourcing their argan oil directly from their partner coop Targanine in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. This enables them to ensure high-quality standards, full traceability and that those producers are paid a fair price for their goods. Targanine’s work in the local communities is truly inspiring, empowering women both economically and socially.