Why HelloFresh meal kits cause less carbon emissions
At HelloFresh sustainability is an integral part of our business model. Our goal is to build food solutions with the least possible impact on the environment. While we always assumed our product is more environmentally friendly than meals with ingredients from the supermarket, we have now gathered proof through an ISO 14040 compliant life cycle assessment (LCA).
A LCA analyzes the environmental footprint of a product across the entire value chain from raw material extraction via production, manufacturing, distribution, use and finally disposal or recycling. In the case of a meal from a meal kit or supermarket that life cycle includes everything from farm to fork.
The LCA Study was peer reviewed by an independent panel of three experts in conformity to the ISO 14040 and 14044 standards for public disclosure of results. A technical summary of the study including details of the basis of our comparative claims can be found at this link.
The different steps of the life cycle assessment of a HelloFresh meal.
HelloFresh meals have a significantly smaller carbon footprint
The results of the LCA show that meals from HelloFresh cause significantly lower carbon emissions than meals with ingredients purchased from supermarkets. In fact, on a global average, a HelloFresh meal has 25% lower carbon emissions over the whole life cycle. The LCA study was conducted in seven markets comprising over 80% of the overall meal kit volume produced by the HelloFresh group: Germany, Austria, Australia, USA, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Both for HelloFresh and supermarkets, the LCA covers the three different meal categories vegetarian, beef and chicken dinners.
One meal from a HelloFresh meal kit causes on average 3.7 kg CO2e emissions compared to 5.0 kg per the exact same meal prepared with ingredients purchased from a supermarket. This proves that HelloFresh's on-demand meal kits with ingredients in exact quantities are efficient and its meals have a lower climate impact than meals prepared by buying comparable food at a supermarket.
Using HelloFresh avoids unnecessary food waste.
Less food waste thanks to HelloFresh’s lean on-demand supply chain
The study also reveals that ingredients are by far the biggest contributor to emissions, followed by distribution. The main differentiator between HelloFresh and supermarkets is therefore the food waste we avoid. Our advantage is that thanks to our data-driven subscription business model we know weeks in advance what our customers want to eat - either because they have ordered already, or because of our in-house developed predictive algorithms. This allows us to purchase just the right amount of ingredients, leading to lower levels of unsold inventory and food waste. Globally, around a third of all food produced is lost or wasted, which contributes between 6 and 10 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions. This is because when we waste food, we waste labor and the precious resources used to create it. We must take steps to limit this and we’re proud to champion a model which reduces waste by design.
Additionally the HelloFresh supply chain is significantly shorter. We try to source directly from local farmers and ship directly to the customer. Less logistics, less storage and fewer facilities to operate means there are fewer emissions all along the supply chain. That’s another advantage of the so-called “pull supply chain” model.
The “pull concept” of HelloFresh’s supply chain is significantly more effective than the traditional “push concept”.
While HelloFresh already causes less emissions than supermarkets, we want to reduce them even more. One of the biggest levers to reduce emissions are the type of ingredients used. There are huge differences depending on the type of ingredients, e.g. a beef recipe has higher emissions than chicken, than vegetarian recipes. That’s why HelloFresh is increasingly offering vegetarian and vegan recipes in all of our 17 global markets. Just recently we have launched an extra label for our recipes with the lowest carbon footprint.
We don’t stop here! Looking into a greener future
Investing into green energy is a key pillar of HelloFresh’s emission reduction strategy. The share of green electricity consumed in HelloFresh’s distribution centers and offices increased to 51% in 2021 from 7% in 2019. In our latest Sustainability Report we give further insights in our environmental goals and what we have achieved so far.
HelloFresh is investing in green energy for our production facilities and into electrical delivery vehicles.
HelloFresh also keeps on supporting the communities we operate in. In 2021, 10,000 of unsold, fresh edible food were donated to charities that help support communities facing food insecurity. This represents 68% of the total surplus food from HelloFresh operations. In addition to donating surplus food, HelloFresh donated 1.5 million meals throughout the US as part of the company’s “Meals with Meaning” program, which was also launched in the UK in October 2021.