When it comes to dairy milk alternatives, the plethora of options can be overwhelming. Whether it be almond, coconut, rice, oat, cashew, etc. The list goes on. This is a great alternative for those who have dairy allergies or intolerances and also is a great option for those limiting or eliminating dairy products from their diet. The wide array of options is great, yet it can often be difficult, and overwhelming, to decide which option you should pick. Personally, I initially started with almond based products and then switched to oat based products. I made the switch after learning how almond products require much more water to be processed than oat products: “Almond milk requires more water to produce than soy or oat milk. A single glass requires 74 litres (130 pints of water) - more than a typical shower.” This is what inspired me to look elsewhere and to eventually stumble on the brand So Delicious. This is a dairy free company that offers many different types of milk alternatives, but I am most interested in their coconut milk based products. Coconut trees “use small amounts of water and absorb carbon dioxide.” However, I am afraid this positive attribute may be fleeting as this option becomes more common. “As coconuts are grown only in tropical areas, the industrial production of this milk can destroy wildlife habitat. Increasing global demand for coconut milk is likely to put further pressure on the environment and wildlife, and deepen these conflicts.” Unfortunately, like many other companies, as the scale of supply and demand increase, so does the difficultly of sticking to one’s environmental values and prioritizing sustainability. This ticking timer for sustainability is upsetting, but not surprising and overall, I am impressed with So Delicious’ and their commitment to their mission: #MoreThanTheMinimum.
So Delicious does have a clear nutrition information website, however, they lack transparency on where they source their material. The ingredients for this specific creamer include: Organic Coconut milk (Filtered Water, Organic Coconut Cream), Organic Cane Sugar, Potassium Citrate, Sodium Citrate, Natural Flavor, Gellan Gum. I am impressed by the limited amount of ingredients but would love some more information on what Natural Flavorings exactly they are using as this term is quite vague. They claim to be USDA Organic, Non-GMO as well as Vegan certified. While they do not supply specific locations of where they source their ingredients, they do provide information on their coconuts, cocoa and oats. They participate in the Good People Loop where they work “with coconut farmers to implement regenerative farming practices like organic farming to create a healthier soil environment that, in turn, produces the best, tastiest coconuts for all your favorite So Delicious products.” They strive to improve the well being, as well as the profit, of 1,000 coconut farmers in the Philippines to “adopt more sustainable practices like intercropping, composting and mulching organic matter which improves their crop yields.” I impressed with the level in detail in which they described this program and I would love if they would include this level of transparency for all of their raw materials.
So Delicious has a manufacturing center in Eugene, Oregon. So Delicious is owned by Danone which also owns a wide range of other dairy free products including: Activia, Silk, Danimals, Light & Fit, and Oikos. While it makes sense that one large corporation is in control of these similar brands, I was slightly disappointed when I discovered this fact because it makes me question this sub-companies intentions and whether they are truly independent in their values. I was also impressed with the packaging transparency they provided, as they dedicated a whole page to their initiatives in regards to improving their packaging efficiency and sustainability. They claim that they support a shift from a linear to a circular economy and back this up by claiming that that intend on being: “recyclable reusable or compostable by 2025.” These are steep goals that are positive but quite vague and not specific. However, I am pleased that they are looking into and setting circular packaging goals as this is imperative to limit the amount of waste that goes into shipping and distribution of their products. They also use FSC(Forest Stewardship Council“ Certified Cardboard for their half gallon and ”shelf stable beverage and creamer packages.“ The FSC is ”is an independent nonprofit that promotes environmentally sound, socially beneficial, and economically prosperous management of the world’s forests.“ They also claim to use recycled paperboard for their frozen dessert boxes and their shipping boxes that consist of recycled fibers.
So Delicious does appear to be making great strides surrounding their sustainability in regards to ingredients and packaging. They are also making very positive strides in regards to their treatment of their employees. They are committed to providing their employees a living wage as they point out how minimum wage does not cover the basic needs of many. They state that: “Danone employees as of April 2021 based on the Living Wage Calculator created by Amy K. Glasmeier and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.” They also claim to be committed to “recruiting and hiring with diversity, equity and inclusion.“ They also are committed to supporting local organizations to end youth homelessness as they work with Urban Peak in Denver, CO. This company donates food, money and time to help out homeless youth in need. I appreciate their initiatives and clear information on their impact of people, sourcing and packaging. All of these aspects appealed to me, but what initially drew me in what the labels and certifications on the side of the container that claims they are a B certified company that is focused on making the world a better place. They have a whole page dedicated to their certifications including: non-GMO certified, USDA Organic Certified, B Corp Certified, Organic Coconut certified, Gluten Free, Vegan, Kosher, etc. Many of these certifications are not valid certifications from outside third party companies that help companies green wash in exchange for money. One in particular that caught my eye as being unique is Organic Coconut certifies. In order to receive this label the product must ”contain between 70% and 95% organically grown ingredients, are made with only certified organic coconut and meet other requirements for the remaining non-organic ingredients are marked with this symbol.“ This is run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and there is limited information available for how a company can obtain this label and whether it is completely valid. Overall, I am impressed as a consumer but would appreciate slightly more transparency in regards to specific locations from where the materials are sources as well as the full manufacturing process in order to discern the level of environmental impact this has on the earth.