If you’re in the market for a healthier alternative to your favorite ice cream, then Halo Top is the product for you. The low-calorie, protein-rich ice cream, like the Chocolate flavor, packs a punch at 19 grams of protein per serving and is made for the most part with organic ingredients. However, just make sure you don’t fall prey to their marketing schemes and overbuy when you’re at the grocery store. This over-consumption habit we have as consumers adds to the issue of waste production, as the food sector already comprises “30 percent of the world’s total energy consumption,” according to the UN. Therefore, it’s safe to say that Halo Top is sustainable enough to mention since they use organic products, manufacture locally, and are recyclable, but the overarching message of their brand contradicts certain sustainable development goals, meaning there is room for growth to become a truly sustainable brand.
What makes Halo Top distinctive from its competitors like Ben & Jerry’s or Häagen Dazs, is its unconventional sugar substitution in its pints. Just like other ice cream, Halo Top is made with milk, cream, and eggs, but what separates it from others and gives it the sought after caloric difference is the use of stevia and erythritol. Stevia is a plant-based sweetener that you may recognize from those small sugar packets on tables at restaurants, but companies have started to utilize it in their products to make “healthier” versions of long-adored sweets and treats. In addition to the health benefits consumers can gain from stevia, there are environmental benefits when switching from natural cane sugars to artificial sweeteners. These include overall less water use and a smaller carbon footprint, yet the question of fair labor practices arises here since much of the stevia used today is sourced from countries that lack universal labor standards. Therefore, a life cycle assessment would be needed to determine the true impacts of using stevia. Like stevia, erythritol, which is a sugar alcohol that is genetically manufactured, is known to have a low carbon and water footprint, but would similarly benefit from a life cycle assessment to determine the overall sustainability of the sweetener. Alongside erythritol and stevia, Halo Top uses high-quality and organic ingredients, which means less pesticides and fertilizer that are attributed to environmental degradation in the production process.
When it comes down to the nitty-gritty of whether Halo Top is sourced and manufactured in a way that aligns with an eco-conscious approach, it is admittedly hard to know for sure without further research into each factory and location across the globe where Halo Top is sold. The main issue I’ve found is determining whether Halo Top sources from farms that follow fair labor standards, since this requires greater in-depth research that isn’t always possible unless you speak with employees or farmers, for example. However, the company was started in a grassroots, crowd-funded manner that focused on local factories instead of outsourcing production abroad, which reduces their emissions and energy use.
Halo Top, a company that markets a light, “healthy” version of ice cream, has gained tremendous traction in the food industry since the company started in 2012. They promise a guilt-free protein-packed ice cream that has truly caught consumer’s attention both in the United States and overseas, as Halo Top’s ice cream is sold in nine different countries now. The company started with several classic flavors, such as the chocolate ice cream, and has now experimented with more flavors that are vegan and dairy-free. Additionally, the entire fad behind Halo Top is this marketing campaign that encourages the consumer to eat the whole pint in one sitting. This screams excess and buying for no reason other than to buy, which just produces more waste than necessary, as ice cream pints pile up in local landfills. In fact, the average American “consumes 23 pounds of ice cream a year,” so imagine what that number may soar to with a brand that encourages eating an entire pint in one go. This tactic ultimately undermines the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 12, which encourages responsible consumption and production habits. Additionally, while most ice cream cartons are recyclable, the onus of it falls on the consumer to follow through and go about the necessary steps to actually properly recycle it, which we all know isn’t the most realistic expectation for everyday Americans.