As a pioneer in plant-based food and drinks, creating products from almond, oat, soya, coconut, hazelnut, rice and cashew, Alpro is on a mission to change the way we look at food, consumption and production.
“We are leading a worldwide food revolution aimed at feeding our future with plants,” says Sue Garfitt, General Manager of Alpro and CEO in Europe.
According to United Nations, the world population is expected to reach 9.7 billion in 2050, and this creates a need to protect the planet’s precious resources and change the way that people consume food. This is exactly what Alpro aims to do. Since the company’s foundation in 1980, it has been an important part of their DNA to get the world to consume food and drink better – and the switch to plant-based packaging plays an important role in this journey:
“It has been an imperative for us to close the loop on the packaging. The package is what we hold, use and touch and as a plant-based leader, it made absolute sense to wrap our products in cartons made from plants.”
Recently, Alpro translated their mission into a five-year health and sustainability action plan with concrete commitments, titled: ‘Feeding the Future With Plants’. In this action plan they commit to achieving 100% recyclable packages for beverages and to introducing paper-based packaging for their plant-based yoghurt by 2025.
The company is on track to become carbon-neutral, which requires changes across each step of the value chain, from sourcing of materials and ingredients to production and packaging.
“We set science-based targets to reduce our carbon emissions at least to the level where we help keep global warming below 1.5 C°,” says Sue Garfitt. “After an analysis of our packaging, we concluded that if we could convert our full range of beverage cartons to plant-based, then we could meet our science-based targets for packaging.”
Today 76% of Alpro’s beverages comes in low carbon packages made with Bonsucro certified sugarcane-based plastics. With Alpro products being sold in 50 countries, this corresponds to more than half a billion packages annually – and the number will likely grow with the company, which is currently growing 10% a year.
General Manager of Alpro and CEO in Europe.
For Alpro, Tetra Pak was a natural partner to work with on the plant-based package, ‘almost like a match made in heaven’. The two companies have worked together since the early days of Alpro’s origin and share many of the same values:
“Our relationship is one that puts both our businesses at the leading edge of technology to ensure that we bring this pioneering aspect of what we do to the consumers,” Sue Garfitt continues.
“Tetra Pak has shared their expertise with us and together we have been very committed and dedicated to make this transition. The task demanded a lot of agility and bravery, because the minute you change your materials and how you source them you also have to make sure the materials are available over the long term. That can be seen as a risk.”
The switch from carton packages made from fossil-based materials to plant-based packaging took 18 months in total and over the next twelve months, Alpro will move over 600 million cartons to plant-based packages.
To implement the change, Alpro needed to figure out how to manage both costs and operational implications. And they had to ensure the safety of their products by securing that the new packaging had a protective barrier that could provide the same freshness and quality consumers had come to expect.
“It has been a bold change for us and definitely worthwhile as we now have reached an important and significant breakthrough,” says Sue Garfitt.
Today, Alpro communicates its use of plant-based packaging materials right on the carton, and the message resonates well with consumers. Sue Garfitt says the switch has been great for the brand’s reputation:
“It has helped reinforce our brand values and what we stand for. But beyond that, the plant-based packaging has opened a dialogue with our customers and our trade partners about our collaboration with Tetra Pak and our goal of using only plant-based packaging in the near future.”
The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) is a partnership between CDP, WRI, WWF and UN Global Compact, in collaboration with We Mean Business coalition, that mobilizes companies to set emissions reduction targets in line with climate science. Since its launch in 2015, over 1,000 companies, including Alpro and Tetra Pak have committed to set science-based targets.