Justin's is a company that focuses not only on their super creamy and delicious products but also a brand that focuses on corporate social responsibility. These values aren't only within the company as seen through their several sustainability efforts; their values extend beyond the company towards philanthropic opportunities that focus on sustainable measures to improve society. While there is still room for improvement, the company has shined in several other aspects.
The two ingredients used to make this signature almond butter are almonds, which are steam pasteurized as a way to prevent salmonella, and palm oil (DUN DUN DUUUUN!!!). Yes, the infamous palm oil that is known to be the key culprit to deforestation, but when it is sustainably sourced, the good outweighs the bad. Justin’s prides itself on sourcing their palm oil from farmers that are a part of RSPO organizations. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil prides itself on maintaining transparency, ethical farming, consideration of employees and communities near the farm, and compliance with laws and regulations. Also, Palm oil is considered one of the most efficient oil yielding crops as it produces more oil per land area than many alternative vegetable oil crops. This means that it actually takes up less land to make this quantity of oil than it would for alternatives such as coconut or soybean oil. Palm oil also fuels the economy for many countries that specialize in farming the crop. But many have questioned the validity of RSPO organizations as there must be stricter standards that need to be placed and enforced by all RSPO distributers. Certain standards that must be met is the banning of peatland development that leads to forest fires, and rainforest clearance.
As discussed in my previous section, Justins uses RSPO certified palm oil that comes from a traceable supply located in Central and South America which responsibly sources the product. The almonds sourced from farms in California are steam pasteurized rather than treated with the carcinogen known as propylene oxide. When workers are exposed to propylene oxide, it can lead to harmful side effects such as respiratory issues, skin irritation, and necrosis. But, with steam pasteurization and growing almonds in general, it requires A LOT of water. In fact, California currently grows practically all of the commercial almonds in the US and most of the world. It roughly takes 1.1 gallons to produce a single almond and in California where they regularly suffer from droughts, farmers must find a more efficient way to conserve water. The second necessary ingredient to produce almonds are bees. As many of you know we are currently facing an crisis as honey bees have become an endangered species. Justin’s has recognized this issue and partnered up with The Xerces Society, People and Pollinators Action Network, and Growing Gardens in order to promote sustainable agricultural practices, planting necessary wildflowers, and protecting both the bees and their habitats.
The two modes of packaging for the almond butter are a jar or their single-use squeezable packs. While the jars are made from 100% reusable plastic, the company does create concerns with their single-use packs. Single-use items are a significant cause for the increase in landfill waste. While the company is aware of this, they have recognized how popular their squeezable packs are. In 2015, the company began studying the possibility of using a Bio-based squeeze pack film that could be compostable, but the trials were unsuccessful. While the company stated that they would continue to find a way to make their squeeze packs eco-friendly, but it has been well over five years and there still hasn't been any sort of update or progress towards creating a bio-based squeeze pack.
The company's employees are all trained on corporate social responsibility, meaning they are all provided with the knowledge of its values. This CSR training is not just meant to show how the company is helping the environment; it is also allowing like-minded employees the chance to participate in the change. For example, Justin's encourages employees to participate in volunteering opportunities and are even compensated by the company for these volunteering hours. Justin's also helps out employees by providing free transportation to their facility for employees in need.
When analyzing who makes the product, believe that with the current state of the world, it is necessary to examine what companies response to COVID-19 were and how it impacted employees. Hormel Foods (Justin's parent company that owns and manages their manufacturing facilities) released a statement on how they maintain employee and consumer safety during this time. The company explains that stricter sanitary precautions have been implemented to prevent the spread of the virus. Employees are also provided paid time off if necessary for up to 15 days in a row or days they aren't feeling well, plan to get tested, or have been infected. They also follow several safety precautions such as the use of masks and face guards, social distancing, temperature and wellness checks, and even creating barriers between employees.
While Hormel has acquired the company, their headquarters remain in Boulder, Colorado. This decision was made by the company's founder as a way to preserve their values of safe and ethical production. Keeping their headquarters in Colorado allows Justin's two maintain the same level of social responsibility that they followed prior to this acquisition. While the company is potentially sacrificing increased production in a bigger plant, this decision also combats possible employee mistreatment, and unethical sourcing. With this merger, Justin's receives the extra funding and efficiency from its new operational partner with experience in the nut industry; Hormel on the other hand is benefitting as they are able to attract a younger demographic of consumers.