Alpro has been the plant-based go-to brand in Europe since 1980s – before plant-based was cool on a wider scale. With increasing demand, they have been growing and they have been a staple for all our plant-based milks and yoghurts. Hearing a lot of bad practices in soy production and Alpro being such a big brand, I was positively surprised about the Alpro Soy drink. Alpro is a B-cooperation and cares about making plant-based and nutritious products being accessible to a wider population. I support that their sourcing of products of soy is mainly from Europe and that they are transparent about their packaging practices. The only thing that is under question is their nickel content.
Alpro cares a lot about nutritional value of their products and about promoting plant-based products in the diet, so let us see what is inside:
Water, Hulled SOYA beans (8.7%), Apple extract, Acidity regulators (Monopotassium phosphate, Dipotassium phosphate), Calcium (Calcium carbonate), Sea salt, Stabiliser (Gellan gum), Vitamins (Riboflavin (B2), B12, D2).
As a customer, when I see this ingredient list I am confused so let us unpack some of those ingredients...
Soy is Alpro’s most used product and it is all Proterra certified free from genetic modification (GMO free) which also indicates that the soy bean has less pesticide residue which is great. However, this Alpro product is not organic which could potentially mean that the soy does not have as good of a nutritious profile as organic soybeans. However, this is not in anyway harmful and cheaper, yet, for more nutritious product, Alpro has more expensive organic drinks for a higher price.
A critique from the German quality Öko-test to the Alpro Soy drink is that the nickel content is too high according to EU standards, which could become a health hazard for consumers. Nickel, like other heavy metals in food, are taken up by the plant from the soil. This is of course a big problem – no matter how friendly a product is for the environment, a product, however, should never do harm to the consumer, especially as nickel allergies are very common. However, another German quality test Stiftung Waren Test claimed that Alpro had no sign of any harmful substances. Alpro has no information on metal content and it would be good to hear from them, as heavy metals in food are becoming an increasing public concern.
Potassium phosphates are a kind of salt that is used in food to protect from heat and acidic conditions and as an emulsifier. It is safe and does not show any signs of being unhealthy in any way. Usual dairy milk also contains phosphorous and potassium, so nothing to worry about.
*Supplements* Calcium and Vitamins Riboflavin (B2), B12, D2)
As Alpro makes dairy alternatives, they are enhancing their products with vitamins and minerals that dairy milk usually contain such as B2, B12 and Calcium. They advertise this product as a “ Source of calcium. Calcium is needed for the maintenance of normal bones”. In addition, they add vitamin D which is usually only found in animal products. Therefore, Alpro is ensuring that their customers can switch from dairy milk to their soy drink without losing out on the essential health requirements. This is great as it promotes a plant-based alternatives which have a much lower carbon footprint than dairy products.
Alpro shows how their carbon footprint is divided up in their supply chain and show that their ingredients have the biggest impact as they are sourcing mostly locally and focus on sustainable production. This shows that their production and transportation are held to a minimum impact.
Alpro grows 60% of its soya plants in Western Europe (France, Belgium and The Netherlands), which means that there is little transportation across Europe and an accordingly lower carbon footprint.
However, most of their soy production is not organic, which implies that chemicals are used for the production– not great for local water quality. This might have to do with cost, as Alpro is committed to keeping their prices accessible and they do not use nitrogen fertilisers which are especially bad for the environment.
Alpro acknowledges their impact on local waters and therefore implement the WWF’s Water Risk Filters to assess their soy and almond production and “improve their water stewardship”. I think that whilst their transparency and efforts are clear, their water target to support ‘nature conservation intitatives’ to ‘compensate for the water [they] use in [their] factories’ is not a sustainable approach as their process is still harmful and helping initiatives will not solve the issue at its core.
Alpro is transparent about their packaging and they have specific targets to improve on that.
The drink cartons are made from 73% of plant-based renewable materials, including paper and bio-based plastics (made from sugar cane), which is awesome. However, 24% of their packaging is made from plastic and 3% from aluminium, to create a thin layer to preserve the freshness and allows it to be stored unchilled, meaning that energy is saved. Alpro acknowledges that aluminium and plastic is a bad feature of their packaging as it is hard to recycle and they are working on an alternative. Their targets from 2020 are for the year 2025, which is a good time frame to make all their packaging either fully plant based or from recycled materials.
Soy is Alpro’s most used product and they assure that all their soy is not from rainforests, with most of it being grown in Europe (60% from France, Belgium and The Netherlands) and the rest is shipped via the sea from Canada. This is amazing as a lot of soy plantations around the world lead to _deforestation and displacement of indiginous peoples._ (https://www.worldwildlife.org/industries/soy#:~:text=In%20many%20tropical%20countries%2C%20extensive,deforestation%20in%20important%20biodiversity%20hotspots.)
Alpro is ProTerra certified which not only guarantees that no forests are cut down for the product, but also guaranteers Alpro’s social responsibility of safe and good working conditions and equal opportunities, including no child labour and the protection of local communities. This assessment is done by ‘an independent Accredited Certification Body.
I could not find out much more about the supply chain and the employee working conditions. However, with the B-corporation certificate, their entire production being in Europe and their strict statement on Modern Slavery, I am giving them a little bit of a benefit of the doubt that I am positive that their workers are treated ethically and fairly.
Alpro Soy Plain Drink
Alpro’s Sustainability Report
Modern Slavery Statement
WWF about Soy
On GMO and organic soy
*_https://www.test.de/Sojadrinks-im-Test-1567644-0/_* (https://www.test.de/Sojadrinks-im-Test-1567644-0/)* *