Sustainability and responsibility cannot be taken for granted when working with plant-based foods. At Verso Food, we are constantly working to ensure that consumers buying our Beanit® and Härkis® products can always make the responsible and sustainable choice. We are using the recently completed carbon footprint calculations to maximise the impact of Verso Food as a company.
The Beanit® Fava Bean Chunks were launched a little over a year ago. This means that we have now gathered enough data from production, and we were able to calculate the product’s carbon footprint together with Biocode and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. At the same time, we adjusted the earlier carbon footprint calculation of the Härkis® Original. Based on the assessments, the carbon footprint of the Beanit® Fava Bean Chunks is 2.5 kg CO2e/kg as sold in the retail packaging. At 1.9kg CO2e/kg, the refined carbon footprint of the Härkis® Original is smaller. This is due to the fact that Härkis® Original uses more fava beans, which has a low-emission cultivation process and its production requires lower process temperatures. As sold in the wholesale packaging that is exported and sold to commercial kitchen, the carbon footprint of the Beanit® Fava Bean Chunks is smaller at 2.1 kg CO2e/kg. This is due to the different packaging formats.
Raw ingredients contribute to the majority of the carbon footprint of the Beanit® Fava Bean Chunks. The farming of fava beans itself is a low-emission process, but the product also contains pea protein, which is more energy intensive to produce. At the Kauhava plant, the Beanit® Fava Bean Chunks are manufactured at high process temperatures, which can be seen in the proportion of emissions generated in-house. The electricity of the plant is generated with wind power. Perhaps as a contrary to a common misconception, the transport of the raw ingredients and packaging materials only accounts for a relatively small proportion of the emissions.
Pitfalls of comparisons
The comparison of carbon footprint calculations obtained from different sources is rather meaningless, as there can be significant differences between the methods and source data used. Our calculations, for example, include the emissions from packaging, which is not the norm when calculating the carbon footprints of food products. There can also be differences in the scope. The calculations of the Beanit® products start from the cultivation of the raw ingredients in the field and end at the incoming goods platform at our Kauhava production site.
The pitfalls of making comparisons were also touched on by Ernesto Hartikainen, the CEO of Biocode, where the calculations were made. Hartikainen encourages companies to use the calculations primarily to promote their own impact: ”The comparison of carbon footprints only makes sense if the calculations have been made using the same methods. To achieve results that mitigate climate change, companies must constantly strive to improve and reduce the carbon footprints of their products.”
At Verso Food, we use carbon footprint calculations as a tool to help us improve. When we know what our largest sources of emissions are, we can compare the impact on emissions of our planned actions and prioritise the actions with the biggest impact.
Our new sustainability programme is launching soon
Manufacturing plant-based food products from Finnish fava beans gives us several advantages as we work towards climate-friendly, low-carbon and ethical food production methods. Even though we are in a favourable position, we must approach our goal from a critical perspective. Our foundations for producing plant-based food products are excellent, but it does not mean that we can take sustainability matters lightly. On the contrary, it would be irresponsible to take our responsibility for granted.
We are currently working on our sustainability programme, which will be launched in early spring. With the programme, our goal is to improve our sustainability in terms of the environment, personnel, finances and the just food revolution, to name a few areas. We use the recently completed carbon footprint calculations as a guideline in environmental decision making.
When you buy our products now and in the future, you can rest assured that you have made a sustainable and responsible choice.
Head of Stakeholder Relations, Verso Food