We acknowledge that we cannot create our products without having an environmental impact and are committed to measuring and addressing our emissions. These emissions are classified as Scope 1 and 2 – those owned or controlled by Upfield, both directly (like the carbon used in processing our ingredients) and indirectly (like the purchase of energy to run a factory), and Scope 3 – the climate impact of our products requiring refrigeration, for example. Our goal is to reduce our Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions to zero by 2030 and cut Scope 3 by the same timescale.
We are putting in a lot of work to implement our carbon transition plan to help us meet these Scope 1 and 2 targets and to extend these plans to Scope 3 in line with the requirements of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which we committed to in 2023.
We have disclosed our climate impact to CDP and were awarded a B in the first year of reporting. We have also partnered climate experts to conduct a climate scenario analysis aligned with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).
We know that when people choose our plant-based butters & spreads, creams and cheeses instead of dairy versions, that they collectively save 6m tonnes of CO2e annually, based on our global sales volumes - that is around twice our own footprint. By helping more people to switch to our products from their dairy counterparts, we can make an even bigger impact on carbon reduction.
Our research, carried out in partnership with specialist sustainability consultancy Quantis and based on a rigorous, science-based methodology, shows that across Europe and North America, our plant-based butters and spreads have on average a 70% lower climate impact, occupy two-thirds less land and use less than half the water when compared with the same amount of dairy butter.
We carried out Lifecycle Assessments (LCAs) which look at the entire span of a product – from inputs needed to grow the crop, to how it is processed, transported and consumed. These covered 212 of our plant-based butters & spreads sold in 21 different European and North American markets, including brands like Flora, Country Crock, Rama, and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. From the research we know that the biggest impact on our own footprint comes from growing crops, which accounts for over 65% of our total carbon footprint.
Compared with 1kg of dairy butter, these LCAs established that the same amount of our plant-based butters and spreads are responsible for 9kg less carbon dioxide equivalents or greenhouse gases, occupy 8m2 less land per year, and use 100 litres less water.
Plant-based foods have a lower carbon footprint that animal and dairy products, involving less water, land, processing and fertiliser. We call this the Upside - the ‘avoided emissions’ or ‘emission savings’, because of customers and chefs choosing to eat one of our plant-based butters and spreads instead of dairy butter. The emissions savings achieved are due to the use of plant-based ingredients in our products instead of animal products. Making dairy butter results in damaging methane emissions from cows, in addition to growing crops for cattle feed. In contrast, plant-based production relies only on the growing of crops. In fact, the average plant-based butter or spread product is responsible for 70% lower emissions than dairy butter.
In 2020, Upfield consumers avoided estimated emissions of up to 6 million metric tonnes of C02 equivalent by choosing plant-based butters and spreads instead of equivalent dairy-based products. This is the same number of emissions as they would have avoided by growing 100 million tree seedlings over a 10-year period.
We know that increasingly people want to be conscious and conscientious consumers, and our decision to be transparent about the carbon involved in the creation of our products enables them to do this, by highlighting the lower environmental impact of plant-based foods. It also helps us in our goal of helping transition to a more sustainable food system.
Upfield was one of the first food manufacturers to share details of its products’ carbon impacts, calculated by an independent third party and using a robust cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment (LCA) that collected data on every stage of a product – from its recipe, key ingredients, the production factory, energy used, packaging created, transport and what happens to the packaging at the end of its life. Find out more about how we calculate the carbon labels on our packs here.
We have committed to introduce carbon labelling to 500 million packs of our plant-based butters, and plant-based creams by the end of 2025.
See our Carbon Labelling Statement here
26% reduction in methane emissions since 2021
Methane is a gas with more than 80x the global warming potential of C02 over a 20-year period. This means that tackling methane it is one of the most impactful ways to reduce climate change in the short term. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the food and agriculture sector is the highest contributor to anthropogenic methane emissions – those that come from gases naturally released by livestock and animals. Upfield has pioneered the measurement and disclosure of methane within the food sector. We were the first to do so and others are now following suit.
We worked with Sustainability experts Anthesis and Quantis to gather data to establish a robust, science-based methodology to measure and share our methane emissions. Of our 2.8m tonne carbon footprint in 2022, 122k tonnes CO2e, or 4% was related to methane, this is down 31% vs 2020 and 26% since 2021.
The vast majority of our methane comes from the small amount of dairy in our portfolio - 1% of our total ingredients - which is why we are working hard to reduce this by reformulating our recipes to completely remove dairy ingredients from our portfolio. Other drivers of our methane footprint include our plant oils, packaging and use of fossil fuels.
Given the disproportionate impact that dairy has on our methane emissions (57% of our total) and on our overall greenhouse gas emissions, we know that our commitment to eliminate dairy from all our products in the coming years will help to reduce both our methane footprint and our overall greenhouse gas footprint. We are already making rapid progress. In 2022, for example, we removed 1.3kt of dairy products from our portfolio – a 26% reduction in methane compared to 2021 in a single year.