Being honest I had never had these cheez-its until this year, but my roommate (featured here) LOVES snacking and this is her go-to so I had to try them. Worried that they are so unsustainable I would have to forbid her from buying them again. Hence, I decided to review them to find out for myself. Unfortunately, I am going to have to help her find some more sustainable snacks.
As a typical snack, cheez-its and extra toasted don’t have any differences except for how crunchy they are. This product contains “enriched flour” which the company defines as a mixture of wheat flour, niacin, and vitamin B1(thiamin mononitrate) and B2 (riboflavin). Wheat flour is a fairly sustainable product, with limited water and carbon footprint, however, Kelloggs doesn’t indicate anywhere what their policy is on the use of fertilizer and seeing as the flour isn’t specified as organic, it most likely is not. This essentially means that most likely the farmers use a lot of fertilizer because flour typically need a lot of chemical applications when grown for mass production. Moreover, it is grown as a mono crop, which can be extremely determinetal to the environment. Even if it was organic (which I believe they would ensure to make very well known) flour is still only moderately sustainable. A better alternative is buckwheat, which is regenerative for the soil, and truly organic wheat flour because there is no use of fertilizers (by some calculations, fertilizer use for wheat flour is responsible for 90% of the crop’s carbon footprint). Moreover, cheez-its also have vegetable and palm oil and cheese made with skim milk. As many of you may know, palm oil is a huge deforestation and soil degradation industry and, until recently, Kelloggs was partaking in extremely unsustainable palm oil practices. However, since 2018 when Asha and Jia Kirkpatrick created a petition that generated tens of thousands of signatures calling out Kelloggs for unsustainable practices, it has made widespread change. First off, girl power!! Moreover, this displays how anyone (even you!!) can make a change if you put in the work. Hence, since then, Kelloggs has committed to using 100% certified organic palm oil by 2025 and is currently partaking in practices that allow 65% of palm oil usage to come from sources that have the smallest carbon footprint possible. Furthermore, although soy milk is the best option for low carbon footprint milks, skim is a sustainable option (much better than almond or whole). Finally, as for the box in which the snack is contained, Kelloggs uses cardboard that is 84% recycled, whereas it should be 100%, it is better than most companies I have reviewed.
Since 2020, Kelloggs has made some wide sweeping changes for the better. Since 2018, Kelloggs has decreased water usage 50% through advancements in technology and has increased 30% in the amount of facilities that have zero waste going to landfills. However, the biggest achievement (Kelloggs claims) has come through the use of renewable energy. At the current moment, Kelloggs’ electrical use in all facilities is 28% powered by renewable energy. Their main accomplishments include having “the first-ever installation of a R-514A ultra-low-global warming potential (ULGWP) chiller in [the] Cincinnati, Ohio facility” and introducing “smart technology – including artificial intelligence – to best manage natural resources”, but none of these come with any true information about how they plan to use them or how they create a lesser carbon footprint in their manufacturing sector. They discuss how their Western Europe and Australian operations utilize 100% renewable energy, so if they have figured out how it’s possible to use all renewable energy, why haven't they? Although this is a good start, Kelloggs is such an enormous brand that 28% is not even close to enough. As for the sustainability of the work force, Kelloggs has some awesome training programs, ensuring diversity and gender equality in all facilities and sourcing places. In general, the changes are moving in the right direction but given the size of the company, more needs to be demanded.
In February 2029, Kelloggs announced their Global Deforestation Policy. This is absurd because the policy gives no concrete indication of how they plan to make their palm oil production more sustainable. The main idea of the policy is that they ‘promised’ to stop extracting palm oil from areas that are partaking in severe deforestation. Really?? That’s the best you can do?? They claim to be high ranked according to Forest 500, however, they only get 46% assessment overall. This, essentially, indicates that based on the assessment of Kelloggs, they are doing a poor job at recognizing deforestation as a risk to their business and the environment with a 5/16 for overall approach. Within the subcategories, their commitment strength is 13/28, reporting and implementation is 13/38, and social is 15/18. Based on a mass information, the major cause for concern is in commitment and reporting. Voiz was created to call out companies for lack of transparency and knowing that data analysis blatantly displays this lack is unbelievable. I do have to give them props for their social, however. They have started many projects, including the first gender sensitization training program for farmers in Cote d'Ivoire, Africa because of the lack of equality between woman and men and training on sowing, pest disease management, post-harvest practices, and selling strategies for women in Odisha, India. I also do have to give props to Kelloggs since 2020. Consumers recognized this lack of transparency and when addressed, Kelloggs started coming out with more wholesome reports. Overall, they are working towards creating a more sustainable company but this change should have started earlier and be more aggressive.