Nutiva’s chocolate hazelnut spread does contain palm oil which is concerning from a sustainability standpoint. Additionally, the certificate may not be enough to prove sustainability. Nevertheless, this product is much more sustainable than Nutella and is healthier in that it contains much less sugar. Also, it supports the SDG #3 because it is a relatively healthier alternative and also uses the expeller-pressed process without chemicals or additives as previously mentioned. I still have concerns over the lack of information on production and distribution, but the company is vegan friendly and cares for farmers and promoting educational opportunities which is phenomenal. I would recommend tot he consumer that they use this alternative over Nutella for these reasons, however stay wary that it is not a perfect solution. I also recommend that the company tries to be more transparent with production and distribution as well as look into the reality of their palm oil usage. Purely using coconut oil and chia oil as they already are may be a more sustainable option for the spread.
As a Nutella alternative, Nutiva’s chocolate hazelnut spread has similar ingredients. Their website says the product is made of sugar cane, cocoa, hazelnuts, flax seed flour, red palm oil, coconut oil and chia oil. This product is vegan friendly as well as certified organic. The product also contains “40% less sugar than the leading brand.” Red palm oil is used and is certified sustainable by Palm Done Right. When I previously reviewed Nutella, I committed to determining the truth behind the RSPO sustainability certificate. In doing the same with Palm Done Right, I found that their website made some bolder claims than I was used to. The claim “deforestation free” is made but links to their company promise. Their promise was more specific and transparent than the RSPO gave which appeared somewhat trustworthy. Sadly, additional research suggests this sustainable certificate might not be sustainable at all. Researcher Roberto Gatti found that “there is no way to produce sustainable palm oil that did not come from deforestation, and that the claims by corporations, certification schemes and non government organisations are simply ‘greenwashing’, useful to continue business as usual.” I trust Gatti - he has a bachelors in biology and PhD in forest ecology. So, this debunks Palm Done Right’s “deforestation free” statement in a concerning manner. However, it should be noted that as a vegan product, the lack of dairy is associated with less freshwater usage and makes this product more sustainable in that sense.
This product is expeller-pressed which means there is “no hexane or chemical solvents used to extract the oil.” This process proves safe and supportive of SGD 3 (good health and wellbeing) in that is has “no chance of having any hexane residue left over.” Additionally, this sustainable goal is supported because there are no synthetic additives added into the creation of this product.
The overall production process is unclear. Nutiva’s website doesn’t clearly explain where ingredients are sourced from or how the distribution process works besides that the palm oil comes from small organic farms in Ecuador. This makes determining the sustainability of this aspect difficult. The container appears to be plastic, but clarifications aren’t made regarding whether is is made out of recyclables. It is BPA free however which adds to supporting SGD 3 again.
The brand Nutiva makes this hazelnut spread and their website claims that their company is dedicated to having a positive social and environmental impact. From my perspective, I feel as though Nutiva genuinely believes in sustainability and is not just using it as some marketing tactic. To start, Nutiva donates 1% of sales to regenerative agriculture and donates additional money to educating youth and supporting farmers. The data on the website is phenomenal but somewhat dated - I wish they displayed more current information.
However, they do have a 2019 social and environmental report that they share. This is more of a company statement report so I felt that is was partially biased with sustainability statements, but overall trustworthy. I was able to get a better feel for the company through the report and what they believe in which I liked. Disregarding the issues with palm oil in the product, the sustainability values surrounding social components are strong. And their vegan friendly products are certainly in support of “Vegan Action’s efforts to eliminate animal suffering, reduce environmental impacts, and improve human health through a vegan diet” like they say in their report.