How we’re creating a better future with more sustainable infant formula base powders

Timo Faber discusses how we developed our first-ever carbon-neutral infant formula base powder and why sustainable infant nutrition is in demand around the globe.

"The aim for any parent is to safely pass the planet to the next generation. In fact, 71 % of parents are concerned about global warming, and over half of these (40%) say environmental impact plays a role when they’re purchasing infant formulas."

How we’re creating a better future with more sustainable infant formula base powders

It’s an old adage, but it’s true: children are the future. That’s probably why 64% of parents are concerned about the environment and 75% are specifically concerned about the impact of carbon emissions.1

Demand for more sustainable infant formula solutions is understandably on the rise. Which is why we launched Essential Start Carbon Neutral – our first ever carbon-neutral infant formula base powder. We sat down with Timo Faber, Global Segment Marketing Lead for Early Life Nutrition, to look at how FrieslandCampina Ingredients made Essential Start Carbon Neutral and how the future of nutrition can be carbon neutral.

 

Q: Why is there growing demand for sustainable infant formula?

A: The call for more sustainable infant nutrition solutions is loud and clear. As the impacts of climate change are felt more widely, carbon neutral products are becoming popular across other food categories – and infant nutrition is following suit. The reasons for this are twofold.

Firstly, there’s a need to address infant nutrition companies’ environmental impact. Typically, as much as 60% of an infant formula’s carbon footprint can come from dairy.2 And of course, dairy accounts for a high proportion of infant nutrition formulations. Facing mounting pressures to improve sustainability credentials, companies are keen to reduce their carbon footprint. They’re doing this by aligning with the UN Sustainability Development Goals and the Paris Agreement to create a healthier, sustainable future and support the global push towards limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius.

Secondly, when it comes to sustainability, parents’ buying habits are increasingly shaped by emotion. Research backs this up – studies show that parents’ concern about climate change increases when an emotional approach to risk perception is taken.3 The aim for any parent is to safely pass the planet to the next generation. In fact, 71 % of parents are concerned about global warming, and over half of these (40%) say environmental impact plays a role when they’re purchasing infant formulas. What’s more, 36% would also consider switching formulas if the new brand provided an environmental claim.4

 

Q: How did we make our carbon-neutral infant formula base powder?

A: As a dairy ingredients provider, we have a crucial role to play in creating more sustainable solutions. So, we partnered with ClimatePartner to create our first ever carbon-neutral infant formula base powder, using three simple steps:

Measuring the carbon footprint of our base powder using extensive data from our member farms and factories

Setting a CO2 reduction target for the base powder

Compensating what is not yet reduced

We then put the plan into action. Between 2019 and 2025, we will lower our carbon emissions on farm by 20%, which means we can create a long-term impact across the value chain. For example, 3,000 of our member farmers have installed solar panels on their farms. We use the energy they produce in our own factories.

And for anything we haven’t reduced yet, FrieslandCampina Ingredients will address residual emissions through certified carbon offset projects with nature-based solutions, such as reforestation and forest protection projects. This is really important to us, as it links to our goal of supporting better nature.

 

Q: What role did ClimatePartner play in the development of Essential Start Carbon Neutral?

A: It’s not enough for us to simply say we’re creating new, more sustainable dairy ingredients for infant formula – we have to prove it so our customers can prove their sustainability credentials to their consumers. ClimatePartner help us do just that. As a leading climate action solutions provider, ClimatePartner helped independently verify our calculations, provide an official carbon neutral label, and help us find the right offset projects around the globe, as well as source accreditations for these projects. And to make sure we’re having a measurable impact, these offset projects comply to recognised standards, such as the Gold Standard or the Verified Carbon Standard.

 

Q: What are the benefits of investing in more sustainable infant nutrition ingredients?

A: By investing in more sustainable dairy ingredients, like Essential Start Carbon Neutral, companies can benefit from a leading nutritional profile and sustainability credentials. With Essential Start Carbon Neutral, up to 85% of the final infant milk formula can be carbon neutral, with formulators only needing to add the vitamins, minerals, and differentiating functional ingredients they would add to any other formulation.

What’s more, our customers can independently use a tracking ID number to verify their base powder’s carbon neutrality and benefit from ClimatePartner’s services to achieve full carbon neutrality of their end product.

Our customers also benefit from knowing that their funds are directly going to carbon reduction and compensation projects. They can communicate this in their brand positioning which helps them meaningfully address the consumer concerns we mentioned earlier.

 

Q: And finally, can you tell us about your personal motivation behind creating more sustainable infant nutrition?

A: Feeding infants is something I very much relate to – nothing was as rewarding as tapping one of my three little boys on the back and hearing them burb as they finished a bottle. The fact that I’m helping make infant nutrition more sustainable for families around the world gives me a great sense of fulfilment. Parents want to provide good nutrition that’s also in balance with the environment and I’m no exception!

I’m incredibly proud of the projects we’ve set up with our customers to improve the sustainability of our ingredients and, as a result, their formulas. These projects have led to lower carbon footprints and also additional income for our member dairy farmers so they can further invest in sustainability initiatives. We are creating a flywheel for developing nutrition that’s good for infants and good for the planet and that’s something I’m proud to be a part of.

To find out more about how we’re creating sustainable dairy ingredients, visit our sustainability hub here.

 

  1. RFC sustainability survey with parents, September 2020, N=651, countries Netherlands, Germany, France, Indonesia, China.
  2. Indicative number, internal FrieslandCampina research. Scope from farm to supermarket shelf in Europe. Includes all Greenhouse Gas emissions. Stage 1 recipe with vegetable fat, complying to EU regulations, packed in 800 g Tin with plastic spoon cap, carton as secondary packaging. Emissions from FrieslandCampina overhead, distribution centres and retail included in calculation but contribute <0.1% to overall emissions.
  3. Ekholm S, Olofsson A., ‘Parenthood and Worrying About Climate Change: The Limitations of Previous Approaches. Risk Anal., 2017
  4. RFC sustainability survey with parents, September 2020, N=651, countries Netherlands, Germany, France, Indonesia, China.
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