Linda McCartney’s sausages are a definite favourite of vegetarians and vegans across the UK, including me. However, as it turns out, there is a concerning lack of transparency around their products. It is great to see that the company is contributing to popularising vegetarianism and making the transition to it easier by supplying meat-free versions of the nation’s favourite meals. However, they need to have higher transparency standards if they want to be considered a sustainable brand.
There is no information about where and how the ingredients are sourced. It is only possible to speculate about the sustainability of the ingredients based on general farming practices. One of the ingredients is rapeseed oil. In the UK, 2.2 million tonnes of rapeseed oil is produced annually. The average yield is 3.2 tonnes per hectare, but farms cannot make much money with less than 4 tonnes per hectare. This suggests that there are some British farmers who are making a loss from rapeseed oil production and that it can be financially unsustainable, sometimes even with high inputs of agrochemicals, which are often harmful to local ecosystems. These higher yields can also lead to land degradation.
One of the main ingredients of the sausages is soya protein. Soya can be grown in the South of the UK, however, 80% of the world supply comes from Argentina, Brazil and the US and soya farming there is largely linked to deforestation. As there is no information about the source of the soya used, it is impossible to gauge the sustainability of its use.
The sausages are packaged in a cardboard box with no additional plastic packaging. Because the cardboard will often become soiled or wet from its contents, it cannot be recycled, but it can still be composted. When shredded or soaked to for efficient decomposition, cardboard can fully break down in just three months. Composting is great for minimizing waste, decreasing the dependence on landfills and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. it can also help create healthy, nutrient-rich soils.
There is no information about the production process of Linda’s sausages. They would greatly benefit if they shared at least some information about this, especially such crucial information as their water usage, greenhouse gas emissions, waste water and general waste management.
Hain Daniels Group, who own Linda MsCartney’s, share information about their gender pay gap. They have a mean hourly pay gap of 12.34%. Their upper pay bands are also overwhelmingly dominated by male employees. This could be a great example of transparency, but companies in the UK are required by law to share their gender pay gap statistics. Therefore, I can only say that the gender equality situation at Hain Daniels Group is not great.
Hain Daniels Group are members of the Ethical trading Initiative and follow their Base Code. The ETI Base Code includes the following clauses: 1) Employment is freely chosen 2) Freedom of association 3) Working conditions are safe and hygienic 4) Child labour shall not be used 5) Living wages are paid 6) Working hours are nor excessive 7) No discrimination is practiced 8) Regular employment is provided 9) No harsh or inhumane treatment is allowed. While this definitely sounds like the bare minimum, many companies still fail to follow even these rules. These requirements are extended to the suppliers, and they are assessed through the Sedex platform. It allows the company to monitor the practices of the suppliers, and to check whether they comply with ETI base code, which Hain Daniels Group require.