Will Panera’s climate-friendly labels spur sales?
Panera Bread has become the first national restaurant chain to label menu items as climate friendly.
The chain partnered with World Resources Institute (WRI), the environmental think tank, to unveil “Cool Food Meal” labels for items having a footprint of less than 5.38 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent. That threshold is 38 percent lower than the average American meal, representing the size reduction required to meet 2030 targets established in the Paris Agreement.
Fifty-five percent of Panera’s offerings, including Chipotle Chicken Avocado Melt Broccoli Cheddar soup and other largely plant-based items, earn the badge.
Much in the way calorie counts help educate consumers, the new labels are designed to raise awareness about the link between food and greenhouse gas emissions and support informed choices.
“While many consumers are more aware of solutions such as driving less and recycling, the impact of your plate is real and just as important,” said Sara Burnett, Panera’s VP of food values, sustainability & public affairs, in a statement.
Panera pointed to recent Pew Research Center research that showed 63 percent of Americans believe climate change is currently affecting their local community to a great or some degree. Panera said approximately 25 percent of greenhouse gases comes from food production.
Surveys show environmental concerns are increasingly driving purchase decisions, but making environmentally-friendly choices around cleaning supplies and apparel appears easier than changing eating habits.
A survey from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) that came out earlier this year found six in ten U.S. consumers seek out environmentally friendly products in at least some parts of their lives, with food and beverages the top category for doing so.
When presented with a theoretical scenario in which a favorite product was less environmentally-friendly than an alternative with the same taste, however, only 35 percent would buy the more environmentally-friendly option. Twenty-nine percent said it would depend on the cost of the alternative, 13 percent would continue to buy the item that they’re most familiar with and 10 percent said their decision would depend on other factors.
- Panera Is The First National Restaurant Company To Label Climate-Friendly “Cool FoodMeals” On Menu, Empowering Consumers To Know The Impact Of Their Plate – Panera Bread
- Panera Bread Becomes The First Chain To Highlight Climate-Friendly Choices – Advertising Age
- Most Americans say climate change affects their local community, including 70% living near coast – Pew Research Center
- Panera Bread becomes first national chain to label entrees as climate friendly – CNBC
- Consumer Survey: Climate Change and Food Production – International Food Information Council
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How do you rate the value of climate-friendly labels on food packaging? Will climate change increasingly impact food purchasing decisions?