After researching sustainability practices at Kellogg and Morningstar Farms, I am happy with the direction in which the companies are moving, as they discuss emissions reductions, water use reductions, waste reductions, etc. The areas in which they can improve include increased transparency in terms of the manufacturing and distribution process of their products, warnings regarding the inclusion of genetically modified or heavily processed ingredients, reducing their use of plastic packaging, and including more accessible financial statements that show gross revenue relative to the amount spent on sustainability and social welfare initiatives.
The list of ingredients on the packaging of the veggie sausages is quite lengthy, with the first few ingredients being water, wheat gluten, corn oil, egg whites, and soy protein concentrate. One important note is that these veggie sausages are not vegan friendly, as they contain egg whites. Kellogg announced recently, though, that all Morningstar Farms products would be vegan by 2021, eliminating a staggering 300 million egg whites from its foods per year. I rated this slightly lower because of its use of corn oil, a highly refined and processed product. During the process of refining and producing corn oil, many of the vitamins and minerals are lost. In addition, Morningstar Farms veggie sausages do contain genetically modified ingredients.
Although there is little information about how the sausages are actually made, Kellogg’s reduction of energy-intensity, greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, and waste associated with production is a positive. In addition, Morningstar Farms hired a consulting firm to conduct “A Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Plant-Based Foods and Meat Foods.” The firm found that, across all of the tested areas (carbon footprint, water use, resource consumption, pollution impact, ecosystem quality, and land usage), a meatless diet proved to have less of an impact than a meat meal. Although the sausage is made in manufacturing plants, lacks unprocessed ingredients, and is shipped worldwide, the lessened environmental impact of the veggie sausage lends to its long-term sustainability.
Before reviewing this product, I had no idea that Morningstar Farms is a subsidiary company to Kellogg’s. After taking a deep dive into their website and most recent Corporate Responsibility Report, I am pleased with the direction in which they are moving as a company. In terms of their environmental footprint, Kellogg’s has taken large steps towards being more eco-conscious. 86% of the foods produced and sold by Kellogg are plant-based. Substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, energy use, total waste, and packaging amounts have been recorded from 2005 through 2020. Almost 30% of the electricity that is used at food production facilities is sourced from renewable sources. Socially, Kellogg’s has multiple initiatives in place that consider communities’ and farmers’ wellbeing. The Better Days program addresses food security by not only ensuring their products are nutritious, but also by feeding at risk communities and individuals through a donation-based system. At the intersection of environmentalism and social responsibility, Kellogg has invested in sustainable agriculture products and has engaged with more than 400,000 farmers to teach sustainable farming practices. Although the emissions associated with production and distribution as well as the abundance of plastic packaging are not ideal, Kellogg has made positive strides.