Purely Elizabeth was founded in 2009 by Elizabeth Stein. Elizabeth studied holistic nutrition at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which provides online nutrition and business education. During her time studying, Elizabeth decided that she wanted to start a natural foods company that provided healthier and delicious alternatives to currently sold items. This mission grew to include her Pillars of Living Purely including you are what you eat, follow the 80/20 rule, good health is more than a diet, and live your best life. Purely Elizabeth has been a certified B Corporation since February 2015 and has a current overall impact score of 87.3. The median score of an ordinary business is 50.9 and B Corporation certification requires a minimum score of 80. This includes a demanding review of a company’s impact on governance, workers, community, environment, and customers. Purely Elizabeth is able to balance purpose and profit by using organic ingredients and participating in 1% Percent for The Planet by donating to non-profit organizations such as the Rodale Institute, Slow Food USA, and Wellness in Schools that use accountability and transparency to strive to create a healthy planet.
Purely Elizabeth is focused on sourcing nutrient-dense ingredients that taste delicious. Elizabeth noticed that a lot of gluten-free products use refined sugars and refined flours like potato starch or white rice flour. Since Purely Elizabeth began as a fully self-funded company, Elizabeth had the ability to focus on ingredients and avoid using mainly sugar and carbs to make granola taste good. The Purely Elizabeth website includes a Frequently Asked Questions page with an ingredient subsection. The page states that, “Our Original Ancient Grain Granola flavor and our three 10-ounce Superfood oatmeals are certified USDA organic. All of our other granolas are certified as made with organic. Our bars and oatmeal cups contain organic ingredients.” The differences between these labels are crucial. A product that is certified USDA organic must contain a minimum of 95 percent organic ingredients, while a product that is made with organic ingredients must contain at least 70 percent organically produced ingredients. It would be great to see Purely Elizabeth transition to making their products with even more organic ingredients. It is also important to note that organic does not necessarily mean that a product is less harmful for the environment. Overall, it is clear that Purely Elizabeth is intentional with the ingredients that they source and care about the quality and nutritional benefits of their products.
Purely Elizabeth products use only certified gluten-free oats. This was one of Elizabeth’s primary goals despite the significant price differences. Elizabeth stated in a Forbes interview that at the time of the launch of the company “our gluten-free organic oats would go for $1.80 a pound whereas regular oats were going for $.25 a pound.” The Purely Elizabeth FAQ page also states that all products are produced in certified gluten-free facilities and follow a strict process for gluten testing in addition to a quality test. More information on the gluten and quality testing process is needed. A key ingredient in Purely Elizabeth products is coconut sugar. Coconut sugar is an unrefined sweetener that is a substitute for refined sugar, which is found in a lot of other granola products. The coconut sugar is sourced from native Indonesian palm trees instead of industry slash and burn palm forests. This process includes local farmers climbing the palm trees to collect sap by hand. The trees are left intact and are able to continue to grow and produce to ensure that harvests do not lead to deforestation.
Purely Elizabeth was created and fully funded by Elizabeth Stein in 2009. In 2017, General Mills invested $3 million into the company. Purely Elizabeth scores a 23.7 in the workers category of the B Corp assessment. For comparison, Ben and Jerry’s scores a 27 and the clothing brand Athleta scores a 15.9. Any score higher than 0 points indicates that a company is positively impacting society, as points are only received for positive answers and are never deducted. This shows that Purely Elizabeth is a company that values its employees. The key sweetening ingredient in Purely Elizabeth products is coconut sugar. Purely Elizabeth sources its coconut sugar from a women-run farm in Indonesia that uses sustainable practices that do not lead to destruction of the environment or deforestation. In addition, Purely Elizabeth has started to make a body scrub inspired by the coconut farmers who use the scrub to smooth their skin. In order to connect back to the farming community, Purely Elizabeth donates 5 percent of sales from the scrub back to the facility to support the farmers. Overall, it is clear that Purely Elizabeth deeply cares about their workers and giving back to the community.