Kraft is a cheap and shelf-stable alternative to traditional block parmesan cheese, but it’s not the most sustainable product out there. While it’s not worse necessarily than any company which produces cheese, Kraft certainly isn’t more sustainable than other companies. Cheese in plastic packaging is never going to be sustainable because it is made of “ingredients” which are inherently unsustainable, but Kraft does have some positive sustainability initiatives. Overall, I would not recommend buying this product if you can find a more local (and sustainable) version of cheese but this is a cheap and easy product.
The main ingredient in cheese is dairy, and it’s no different in this product. Specifically, this cheese is made of pasteurized part-skim milk, cheese culture, salt and enzymes. Kraft also adds cellulose powder and potassium sorbate which act as preservatives and prevent the cheese from grating. Due to the resource-intensive nature of raising and caring for dairy cows, this product is inherently unsustainable. It’s also packaged in a shaker which is entirely plastic. It’s PETE plastic, which is the most recyclable form of plastic, but that doesn’t stop it from being plastic. This isn’t an outright sustainable product by any stretch of the imagination, but its also a standard product in most people’s pantries due to its cheap price and long-standing shelf life. I rate it a .25/3 for What It’s Made of because while the ingredients and packaging are inherently unsustainable, at least the packaging is recyclable and the cheese is shelf-stable, which means people theoretically can use the same container for longer.
Kraft doesn’t provide a lot of information on the treatment of their animals, who are, in this case, how the main ingredient is made. Kraft has a “zero tolerance policy for willful acts of animal abuse and neglect” for the farms they take milk from, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of oversight there. As far as their actual supply chain goes, Kraft has offices and manufacturing plants all over the world, and it is nearly impossible to tell where each product comes from. This is concerning and points to a long and likely unsustainable supply chain due to the amount of pollution caused by the transportation of materials.
While this product may not be the most sustainable, Kraft Heinz’s environmental goals, especially related to sourcing, and are on a timeline I feel is realistic and includes impactful results. Their goals include sourcing 100% sustainably grown tomatoes (for ketchup), traceable-to-mill palm oil, and cage-free eggs by 2025, with more specific goals for reaching the aforementioned ones with checkpoints in 2020, 2021, and 2022. They also want to make all of their packaging recyclable, reusable, or compostable by 2025. These goals are great, however, they don’t speak to worker treatment now. As one of the largest food and beverage companies in the world, they have offices and factories all over the world. This makes oversight more difficult, but Kraft Heinz does implement third-party audits and has a (somewhat basic) commitment to worker health and safety. This commitment includes things that should be the norm such as prohibiting child labor, but are not norms in the industry. This is the bare minimum, but I am still glad Kraft Heinz is committed to enforcing these guidelines for worker safety.