Overall, SmartSweets is not doing poorly in the sustainability department, though they do have room to grow. Most SmartSweets products are plant-based and their ingredients are naturally sourced. Additionally, SmartSweets does not ship to locations beyond Canada or the continental US. The company is owned by its founder, 26 year old Tara Bosch, and thus is not run by a larger, potentially more controversial, corporation. SmartSweets definitely does have room to grow when it comes to being eco-conscious. The brand would certainly benefit from disclosing more information about their production process and switching to eco-friendly packaging. However, even given these suggestions for the future, I would recommend this product, especially over other, significantly less sustainable, mass produced and globally distributed candies on the market today.
Ingredients: non-gmo soluble corn fiber, allulose, isomalto-oligosaccharides (vegetable source), modified potato starch, natural berry flavor, citric acid, malic acid, fruit and vegetable juice (for color), coconut oil, carnauba wax, monk fruit extract
Broadly speaking, this ingredient list does not raise many red flags in terms of environmental impact. That said, the two ingredients which raise the most concern are allulose and carnauba wax.
Allulose is a fairly new ingredient in the food industry. The appeal of allulose comes from its similarities to sugar in taste and texture, but uniqueness in low caloric and carb count. Thus far, allulose harvesting has not posed a strong threat to the environment. However, this ingredient is considered to be a “rare sugar.” It is naturally occurring and can be found in jackfruits, figs, and raisins, but notably in very small quantities. Thus, naturally occurring allulose will likely not remain a sustainable ingredient in the food industry given the ingredient’s rising popularity that could lead to its over-harvesting in the future. SmartSweets’ manufacturer creates allulose by “breaking down the carbohydrate in corn through a series of proprietary enzymatic processes.” Thus, it is safe to say that SmartSweets does not contribute to the over-harvesting of allulose, but manufacturing this ingredient in such a way does still still have environmental impacts. Corn is not a sustainable ingredient given that corn production does deplete nitrogen, among other nutrients, from soil.
Because carnauba wax has a wide range of uses, it is currently being over-harvested. When carnauba wax is harvested, only 5% of the palm it comes from is viable for wax synthesis. This means that it takes a lot of palms to meet the global demand for this ingredient. Thus, sustainable harvesting practices of carnauba are extremely important given that over-harvesting is causing damage to the Amazonian Rainforest and to our climate in general. On their website, SmartSweets describes this “natural renewable resource” and states that harvesting the wax from trees does not damage the trees. Furthermore, they state that “the use of carnauba wax creates an economic incentive to keep the trees standing.” Given that SmartSweets makes an effort to describe this ingredient and how it can be harvested and used sustainably, it is likely that they are observing these practices. However, as consumers, we must remain skeptical of how producers obtain such ingredients when it comes to the fragility of the environment and the economic profits which come from utilizing these naturally sources ingredients
This specific SmartSweets product is vegan, though the brand does produce non plant-based products. The company’s non-vegan products contain gelatin. Those which do not constitute “the first ever 100% plant-based #KickSugar” candies. SmartSweets makes it very clear which of their products are vegan and which are not. Those which are vegan are identified by a large “plant based” label on their online site.
SmartSweets is very open about the nutritional information of their Sweet Fish and other similar products, but the brand is less transparent about their production process. SmartSweets manufactures their products in Canada. As mentioned above, the company manufactures their own allulose, but the company does not disclose other information pertaining to how their products are manufactured. Additionally, their packaging is not recyclable. Given this lack of transparency, it is hard to determine how sustainable the production process at SmartSweets truly is.
SmartSweets is relatively new to the snack market. The company officially launched in July of 2016 and began to expand at a more rapid pace when Whole Foods began selling their products in March of 2018. The brand’s devotion to healthy ingredients has certainly accounted for much of their sustainable practices. SmartSweets products are non-GMO and their ingredients are largely sustainable and sustainably sourced. Additionally, the brand is conscious of curating plant-based products. Their products are also all naturally flavored and colored. The company does not appear to have philanthropic involvement at this point in time.