Annie’s Bunny Fruit Snacks are a widely available vegetarian alternative to other gummy candies. The raw ingredients of this product all come from organic and plant based sources, which means they have a low carbon footprint as compared to other foods. In terms of who makes this product, the brand Annie’s Homegrown is owned by General Mills. Annie’s is part of a specific operating unit within General Mills that genuinely seems committed to making their supply chain more sustainable through sourcing ingredients from farms using regenerative agriculture and reducing the packaging used to transport and sell their products. That being said, I would love to see General Mills as a whole move towards more sustainable practices and would want more information on how the gummies themselves are manufactured in order to give this product a rating of 2 or above.
Annie’s Bunny Fruit Snacks boast an entirely organic and vegan ingredient list. They are made mostly of tapioca syrup, cane sugar, tapioca syrup solids, pear juice concentrate, water, and pectin. Pectin is a thickening agent that is isolated from fruits. For additional flavoring and preserving, the gummies contain citric acid, sodium citrate, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), sunflower oil, and natural flavor. The “natural flavor” label means the chemicals in this food that produce flavor come from natural sources, i.e. plants and animals. It is hard to determine the sustainability of “natural flavoring” because the term tells the consumer nothing about what is actually in the product. Using the phrase “natural flavors” is common practice on food labels, but I would like to see more transparency from food companies including Annie’s about their flavoring ingredients. This is one reason I’ve given a rating below 2 for this section. The gummies are colored with natural ingredients such as black carrot and black currant extracts. Finally, they are coated with organic carnauba wax. Carnauba wax is harvested from palm trees in northeastern Brazil that grow in the wild rather than being cultivated. This is a good thing because it does not contribute to deforestation, and the trees do not have to be cut down or killed during harvesting. However, recently there have been investigations into the Brazillian carnauba wax industry due to concerns that rural laborers were being subjected to poor working conditions. The Brazilian government and ethical agriculture organizations have been working to ensure better working conditions for wax harvesters, but it is hard to know if the wax in Annie’s Bunny snacks is ethically sourced. In Annie’s sustainability report the company does say that protecting farmer health is an important aspect to their definition of organic food products.
Like with many processed food products there is little information available about how the raw ingredients in this product are prepared to form the gummy snacks. Annie’s does have a small section of their 2019 Sustainability Report in which they say they are working towards net zero carbon emissions from their manufacturing operations. However the information on how they are going to achieve that and what effort they've made so far to improve their manufacturing processes is sparse. That being said, the product is organic, which reduces its impact on soil and water health. The fact that it is made without gelatin is also a plus, as this product provides a vegetarian alternative to other gummy candies.
The brand Annie’s Homegrown is owned by General Mills, a large American food manufacturer. Annie’s Homegrown is a part of an operating unit within General Mills that is implementing sustainable practices into its supply chains, external engagement, and internal engagement. In their sustainability report they discuss the ways they are implementing sustainability into their supply chain, for example by sourcing almost all of their ingredients from organic sources, only using palm products that are Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil certified, and frequently measuring their environmental impacts. Annie’s is experimenting with regenerative agriculture by collaborating with 51 farms. 45 of the farms are receiving regenerative agriculture education and on all 51 farms soil health is measured every three years, biodiversity impacts are measured every year, and farmer economic resilience is measured every week. This shift towards regenerative agriculture definitely shows Annie’s commitment to sustainability. Unfortunately, the company isn’t perfect, which is why I’ve rated this section below a 2. Some of the claims in their sustainability report are too vague. For example, they say they are committed to using minimal packaging in their products. This seems like a step in the right direction, but they don’t say exactly how they are going to achieve this. Furthermore, the report is from 2019, and I haven't been able to find a more recent sustainability report. Finally there is the issue of the practices of Annie’s parent company, General Mills. General Mills has a separate page on their website dedicated to sustainability, but it is a bit too vague and not transparent. General Mills also has a cereal partnership with Nestle, a company infamous for unethical practices. While this partnership doesn’t directly impact Annie’ Bunny Fruit Snacks, it does indicate to me that General Mills as a whole does not have sustainability as one of their core values.