Bare produces an array of baked snacks made from fruits and vegetables. Intrigued by their commitment to simple, natural products and design, I was met with frustratingly simple environmental commitments to match. Bare’s rise in popularity and acquisition by Pepsico prove that healthier, more natural snack foods are on the rise. However, they could stand to be more transparent about their supply lines and offer more information about their sustainability efforts. Pepsico in particular has a long way to go in order to reduce the harmful practices that allowed them their massive growth, considering that they are currently one of the biggest polluters on Earth.
Bare’s apple chips are a fantastic healthy snack choice compared to more traditional chip products. The only ingredient is apples, which are rich in vitamins and fiber, and they include no oil, no added sugar, no fat, and no preservatives.
The real issue here is the packaging. All Bare chips are packed in sealed plastic and foil pouches to ensure that they retain their flavor and crunch. However, they offer no recycling information on the package, and plastic and foil packaging typically cannot be separated and will inevitably end up in the trash. The nature of the product requires relatively small amounts of food in every pouch, ultimately resulting in quite a bit of waste.
Although Bare does not have universally organic products, they do offer organic varieties and refrain from using chemicals to wash their produce. Bare’s apple chips are made with Washington State apples, and their website states that they are baked “close to where the apples are grown.” These are their most local product for American consumers, considering that their coconut and banana chips are grown and packed in Thailand, while their veggie chips are grown and packed in Poland. I could not find any information on exactly what farms in Washington they source their apples from, which would be useful to provide because farmworkers often have questionable working conditions. For example, Yakima Valley’s apple packing houses saw recent strikes over workplace safety and wages amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Providing more information on their supply chain would help them prove their commitment to social well being.
Bare prides themselves on humble origins, as they started out selling local Washington apple chips at the farmers market. However, they’ve expanded their operations considerably, and they were purchased by the mega corporation Pepsico in 2018. An older version of Bare’s about page touts their B Corp certification, which requires a third party audit to determine whether or not a company is meeting certain standards for social and environmental well-being. However, they no longer advertise this certification on their website and their company is not listed on bcorporation.net (http://bcorporation.net/). I do not know whether they failed to pass their recertification or they chose not to pursue it anymore, but this is a concerning development that suggests that their standards may have weakened. Despite their heavy emphasis on healthy products “sourced in nature,” they do not include any information about their sustainability practices on their website, only stating that “We bring our beliefs to life by proudly supporting local community and environmental organizations” with no further details or examples. As for Pepsico, the company signed the Business Ambition for 1.5°C Pledge in 2020, committing to net zero emissions by 2040. They state that in 2019 the company decreased emissions by 6% compared to 2015, although their total emissions were still incredibly high at 55 million metric tons CO2e. Their most notorious environmental offense is packaging waste, particularly plastic. They produce about 2.9 million metric tons of plastic every year, the second highest of any company in the world. This statistic warrants extreme suspicion of their promises to use entirely recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable plastics by 2025, considering that our recycling system is so inefficient and alternative plastics are far from a perfect solution.