China Food

Dairy companies have opened the “zero carbon” label, and it will be too late to keep up!

With the prevalence of “double carbon”, how should brands use sustainable innovation?

By Maggie Zhang

Source: foodaily daily food (id:foodaily)

The new concept of sustainable life is constantly permeating all aspects of our life. Garbage classification, environmental protection packaging, waste recycling Sustainability has changed from a trend to a trend. From a national perspective, since 2020, “carbon peak” and “carbon neutralization” have become the long-term strategic goals of our society. In 2021, “double carbon” has been written into the government work report for the first time. According to the time plan, China will achieve carbon peak in 2030 and carbon neutralization in 2060.
Not only reflected in the material level, the spiritual value of low burden and light desire represented by sustainability has gradually become a “spiritual spa” of people in modern society. Following nature and living a relaxed life, sustainability is not only a necessity for the development of the external living environment, but also the emotional orientation of young people at present.
As sustainable development has gradually become the consensus of the whole food industry, many food and beverage brands have made efforts to protect the environment from production, operation and other aspects, and there are more and more concerns and innovative practices related to this aspect. Among them, dairy enterprises are at the forefront of the team. The repeated arrival of the epidemic has also led more people to re-examine their consumption habits and support socially responsible enterprises.
So, how should brands adapt to the development of the new era and seize business opportunities? And how to make the concept of sustainability go deep into the hearts of consumers while assuming social responsibility?

Dairy enterprises took the lead in opening the “zero carbon” label. Is it a “gimmick” or a “real act”?

Data show that from 2018 to 2021, China’s milk production showed an overall upward trend. According to the latest data released by the National Bureau of statistics, China’s milk production reached 36.83 million tons in 2021, an increase of 7.1% year-on-year. The dairy industry is connected with agriculture and manufacturing. According to the statistics of world greenhouse gas emissions, agriculture is the second largest greenhouse gas emission industry after the energy industry, and animal husbandry is the largest source of agricultural greenhouse gases. Therefore, from the perspective of environmental protection, carbon neutralization in the dairy industry is imperative.
Image source: yiou think tank

From products to packaging, all brands are blowing the wind of “carbon reduction”

On June 2, amuxi launched the public welfare action of “environmental protection without ink” and officially launched the ink reduction products. Among them, the original flavor packaging has reduced three colors, saving about 80% of the amount of ink; Yellow peach oat flavor reduces 4 colors, saving about 70% of ink printing. In addition, this series of products have also been launched simultaneously around the environment, and the product concept of environmental protection, energy conservation and emission reduction has been implemented to the end.
Packaging boxes are also a major source of carbon emissions. On June 5, world environment day, new hope launched “box me and act together!” The annual milk box recycling plan will set up a “Research Institute” for low-carbon life to explain environmental protection knowledge such as garbage classification and waste recycling to consumers. Guangming dairy started with Shanghai as a pilot, and became the first dairy enterprise in the industry to carry out the green action of recycling milk cartons by carrying out the recycling of milk cartons without restrictions on specifications and brands.

Image source: Weibo – New Hope Xuelan milk
In addition to recycling and lightweight packaging, in other links, enterprises are also implementing environmental protection actions to help the earth reduce carbon.
On May 21, Yili launched the first “zero carbon yogurt” in China, Changqing protein time. Four days later, its NOC must be on the market as soon as possible, the first carbon neutral ice cream in China – human Yuetao. In the previous two months, Yili has launched Jindian A2 β- Casein organic pure milk and Jindian juanshan organic pure milk are two “zero carbon milk”.
To ensure the health and sustainability of milk sources from the upstream source, on June 17, Nestle released its first carbon neutral product in the Chinese market – zhuochun nenen 3 organic milk powder. The carbon footprint of the product is calculated for the whole link. The milk source insists on the natural maturity of forage without accelerating its growth. In addition, Nestle also uses plant-based materials for the cover and spoon accessories of the product.
Image source: Nestle official website
At the midstream production end, Yantang dairy started with the design of its flagship plant. By adopting environmental friendly architectural design, it introduced advanced low-energy equipment, and set up a photovoltaic power generation system, the water purification reached the first-class emission standard of Guangdong Province. Mengniu uses renewable energy such as solar energy and biogas power generation to build green factories, and takes the lead in using “post consumer recycled plastic (PCR)” as the product outsourcing film, which reduces plastic waste and carbon emissions on a large scale.
In the downstream logistics link, Mengniu launched the “green spirit” plan, using digital environmental protection turnover boxes to replace traditional corrugated boxes, which can reduce 2.06 million trees felled every year and 1680 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Dutch dairy brand fislan put into use the first batch of 50 ton hydrogen powered milk tanker in Groningen, the Netherlands last July, and actively investigated the feasibility of comprehensively promoting hydrogen powered milk tanker. Reduce carbon emissions in product transportation.

With the layout of the whole industrial chain, dairy products have entered a zero carbon era

It not only focuses on the processing and sales side, but also has reached a consensus on the carbon reduction plan of dairy products in the whole industrial chain.
On “International Biodiversity Day” on May 22, Yili officially released the 2021 sustainable development report, 2021 biodiversity conservation report and zero carbon future report. The three reports systematically elaborated Yili’s zero carbon development strategy, and made the factory have a comprehensive zero carbon emission performance through technical energy conservation, emission reduction and carbon elimination measures in the production and manufacturing process. Pangang, its chairman and President, said that Yili had achieved carbon peak in 2012 and would achieve carbon neutrality in the whole industrial chain by 2050.
Source: Yili official website
In addition to zero carbonization in practice, it is also very important to formulate unified industry standards. On the day of world environment day on June 5, Unilever, together with more than 20 global authoritative institutions and leading enterprises, jointly issued the group standard of “zero carbon factory evaluation method”, which became the first complete and quantifiable “zero carbon factory” construction standard and evaluation rules in the world. Rebecca marmot, chief sustainable development officer of Unilever, said, “Unilever is committed to becoming a global leader in sustainable business. In its commitment to improving the health of the earth, we plan to achieve zero emissions from operations by 2030.”
Starting with industrial cooperation, Feihe pioneered the “double carbon closed-loop” model, formed a complete chain of carbon reduction in agriculture, animal husbandry and industry, and integrated green and low-carbon practices into every link of the industrial chain. By carrying out the “industrial cluster ecological recycling comprehensive utilization project”, Feihe carries out anaerobic fermentation of air dried straw and livestock manure to produce biological natural gas and organic fertilizer. Only Kedong County can produce 7million cubic meters of biological natural gas per year, and the annual output of organic fertilizer can increase organic matter by 1% for about 14000 mu of black land.

From raw materials to packaging, how many new business opportunities can sustainability generate?

Although the dairy industry moves frequently, compared with the world, China’s food enterprises have only taken the first step in the practical application of carbon neutralization. Due to the long chain characteristics of the food and beverage industry, the current domestic emission reduction center is still in industries with relatively obvious carbon emissions, such as industry and transportation, while ignoring the urgency of sustainable emission reduction in the food and beverage industry.
Foodaily observed that globally, the concept of sustainable development is constantly penetrating into food raw materials, food packaging, and then into the whole link of food production, which has given birth to more new business opportunities.

What other interesting expressions are there about underestimated food ingredients?

The neglect of low-carbon food in the domestic market is also reflected in the innovative use of food raw materials. From foodaily’s observation, in overseas markets, innovative applications of products based on sustainable food raw materials emerge one after another. Then follow foodaily to see what sustainable application values and consumption scenarios have been developed for some raw materials that are inconspicuous to Chinese people?

Make the best use of everything, rejuvenate “imperfect” fruits and vegetables

Rind, an innovative fruit snack brand with the highlight of keeping intact fruits without removing the peel, aims to create the concept of “zero waste snacks” by maintaining the authenticity of the peel. Its various dried fruit products are rich in natural fiber, vitamins and antioxidants, which can not only preserve nutrition to the greatest extent, but also achieve the effect of protecting the earth. Its official website shows that in 2021 alone, eating rind snacks has helped save more than 340000 pounds of food waste, while rind’s goal in 2022 is to save 1million pounds of food.
Image source: rind official website
American Vegetarian snack brand spudsy focuses on making snacks with sweet potato as raw material. Its main products on the market include sweet potato puffs and sweet potato chips. At present, it has launched a variety of flavors including vegetarian cheese, cinnamon, sea salt and so on. It is worth noting that the sweet potatoes used by spudsy are all recycled. The brand has saved 1.5 million sweet potatoes by recycling and reusing the “underperforming” sweet potatoes.

Turn waste into treasure and bring new value to traditional non edible by-products

Beer brewing waste is actually of great use. Regained innovatively extracts malt grain from the residue of beer brewing. Compared with whole wheat flour, the flour milled from this malt grain has 3.5 times fiber and 2 times protein. In addition, this flour also contains probiotics, polyphenols and other nutrients, which can help promote intestinal digestion. From the perspective of environmental protection, regrained saves the food safety ingredients that manufacturers traditionally consider “used”. Therefore, each pound of regrained malt grain can reduce the carbon dioxide generated by burning 1 pound of coal and save more than 300 gallons of water. In terms of product selection, regained currently offers cakes, pizza, pasta, puffs and other products.
Image source: regained official website
When we hear the word “cocoa”, the first thing we think of is chocolate, and the American brand blue stripes makes the best use of cocoa. Inspired by the utilization of cocoa fruit by the indigenous people of Central America, blue stripes not only uses cocoa beans to make chocolate, but also grinds cocoa shells into flour and extracts cocoa juice into drinks, so that the whole cocoa fruit can be fully utilized, so as to obtain all the nutrients of cocoa fruit and help to achieve the nutritional balance of human body.

Replace raw materials and solve the problem of food sustainability from the root

Speaking of the sustainability of food raw materials, the plant base has to be mentioned. Less carbon emissions, more balanced nutrients based on unsaturated fat and dietary fiber, and diverse tastes have gradually made plant-based products become mainstream consumer groups.
Foreign plant-based brands developed earlier, and also ran out of the giants. The plant meat brand beyond meat and the Swedish plant milk brand oatly, which have been listed successively, have already become the leaders in their respective categories, while in China, plant-based renovation has also become an upsurge.
First, oat milk will promote vegetable milk into the new consumption field with its own strength. Almond juice, walnut juice, coconut milk, many traditional plant dairy products “turn red overnight” under the concept of Oat Milk + coffee, and their profits double. In addition, the new forces of vegetable milk have also brought more possibilities to this track. In the capital market, the almond milk brand “namely apricot” has completed an angel round financing of 10million yuan in January this year. In terms of product research and development, the badamu milk launched by Yuanqi forest, the oat plant milk, black sesame plant milk and pistachio fruit milk launched by the plant label all make “everything can be plant-based possible”.
Image source: plant label official website
Not only limited to the food we are familiar with, plant-based products have more room for innovation in the future. For example, in terms of raw material development, vaxa technologies, an Israeli biotechnology company, is committed to developing clean and high value-added microalgae nutritional supplements, natural colorants, and meat protein substitutes and commercializing them to provide nutrition for human beings. It is understood that dry microalgae are rich in protein equivalent to soybeans, and can provide more essential amino acids than soybeans.
Helga, an Austrian company, is also a start-up company focusing on algae food research and development. They developed two kinds of algae drinks (die pricelnde Helga and die stile Helga), two kinds of algae Biscuits (Helga bio algencracker) and 100% pure Chlorella powder (Helga Chlorella algenpulver). Among them, the functional drink die pickelnde Helga, with Chlorella as the main raw material, is a low calorie pure vegetable refreshing drink. The product is rich in vitamin B12, which is suitable for people who love sports and need to supplement energy in time. Organic seaweed biscuits are made from super foods such as Chlorella, whole wheat flour and flaxseed, which are also nutritious.
Source: Helga official website

Lightweight, new materials, sustainable advancement of food packaging

With the continuous strengthening of social awareness of the disadvantages of non renewable materials such as plastics, the sustainable packaging market is expanding. According to the survey data released by presence, in the global packaging supply chain, the use of recyclable containers increased by 23% over last year, including sterile cartons increased by 9% and glass increased by 2%.
There is no doubt that sustainable packaging has great potential in the future. Based on this, many brands are eager to try, so how can we make good use of this “sustainable packaging” brand?
From the perspective of sustainable development of product packaging itself, label free and improved packaging technology are becoming a new trend in this field. On March 3, 2022, Master Kong released the first label free pet bottle packaging with the concept of low-carbon and environmental protection, which was applied to lemon flavored iced black tea and sugar free iced black tea, two classic products. The new packaging gives up the colorful plastic labels in the past, and distinguishes the taste only by the yellow and black bottle caps. At the same time, it ensures the transparency of information by laser printing the basic information such as product name and production date on the bottle body.
Image source: Weibo – Master Kang
On April 22, Pepsi Cola China also announced the launch of “bottle free” Pepsi Cola. This improvement still retains the classic blue bottle cap of Pepsi Cola, but the plastic label and ink printing are removed from the bottle body and bottle cap respectively, and the trademark is presented on the bottle body by embossing process. The basic information is also printed by laser technology. On June 5, Jindian launched the “advertising earth” of “no printing, no ink” environmentally friendly milk packaging, and the dairy industry continued to blow the wind of “naked running” packaging.
In addition to de labeling, the development of low-carbon packaging is also a major trend of sustainable food packaging innovation. In December last year, Jindian launched the “0 aluminum foil low-carbon sterile paper-based” compliant packaging nationwide. This packaging adopts a patented innovative packaging material structure that is easier to recycle, and also uses a new barrier layer to replace aluminum foil, so as to protect the contents and minimize the carbon footprint. According to the CEC authoritative certification of the central joint certification center, the carbon footprint reduction rate of the packaging can be as high as 41.8%.
Overseas, the 2021 Dow Packaging Innovation Award Diamond Award winning work was designed by the Australian food packaging supplier of packaging, roll’n’recycle ® Packaging not only has high flexibility and toughness, which makes it convenient for consumers to roll the empty flat packaging into a 3D cylindrical cylinder suitable for their recycling box, so that there is no resistance to recycling. It can also be used in the production of self-supporting bags, with performance similar to that of laminated materials. This package is used to contain granola oatmeal. The slightly hard bag body can protect the crispy oatmeal from crushing or moisture, and the internal coating will not affect the food quality.
Source: brookfarm official website
Packaging accessories are also a major pain point in the field of food packaging. In November 2020, Xicha led the first to try out PLA straws in Shenzhen. A few days before the implementation, it announced to consumers that “the happiness deprived by paper straws is back”, and announced that the original PLA degradable straws, single cup packing bags, spoons and forks of Xicha were launched in stores across the country.
Starbucks, which has always been committed to environmental protection, has solved this problem by using coffee waste. By recycling coffee grounds and further processing and extraction, Starbucks replaced some PP plastic particles with coffee grounds to make a “slag pipe”, which has a degradation rate of more than 90% in 4 months. It not only plays the role of environmental protection, but also overcomes the problem that the traditional paper straw affects the taste due to poor barrier. It is reported that in the future, Starbucks will regularly launch limited coffee environmental protection peripherals, such as coffee grounds coasters, coffee grounds notebooks, etc.
Image source: Starbucks official website
Seesaw launched a biomass straw fully degradable straw straw straw made of about 40% straw fiber combined with PLA material, which is expected to reduce the use of more than 500000 plastic straws every year, practicing the concept of “a better environment, from its own ‘tube'”.

What kind of “sustainability” will make consumers willing to continue to pay?

In the past, sustainability was often used as a slogan. With the outbreak of the epidemic, the consumption concept of “giving up” has also begun to receive renewed attention, “saving”, “recycling”, “plastic free life” and other keywords have become the shopping principles of more and more people.
The research data shows that among the youth groups in China, the comprehensive penetration rate of “sustainable consumption” dietary behavior is as high as 93.2%. Among them, the concept of sustainability conveyed by products and the desire to practice a sustainable lifestyle have a significant role in promoting sustainable dietary consumption, with 43.1% and 39.3% of consumers practicing it respectively. In terms of consumption frequency and consumption amount, young consumers buy 2-4 times a month and spend 100-300 yuan each time.
Image source: yiou think tank
So how should brands grasp the current consumer enthusiasm for sustainable products and truly make the concept of sustainability deeply rooted in the hearts of the people? Combining with market demand, strong interaction and emotional power are the key.

Insight into market pain points and make recycling a new communication point

Under the general trend of low-carbon and environmental protection, “zero waste” and “recyclability” have also become an entry point for enterprises to build and publicize their brands. Among them, the key is to match the brand selling points with the characteristics of the target population.
Flying crane combines environmental protection with convenience and accuracy from the use scene of milk powder. On May 22, Feihe launched the “Feihe milk powder cover rebirth plan” on its official website Weibo, inviting consumers to donate their own Feihe plastic milk powder cover. The top 10 participants can get an environmental friendly Mini suitcase made of milk powder cover. Through insight into consumers’ living habits and needs, we can win the attention of our parents.
Three and a half meals will carry tonality to the end. The recyclable return plan of three and a half tons has always been loved by consumers. Empty shells are exchanged for theme materials, and the recycled empty shells will also be reused into living peripheral products. According to official data, 4920005 empty cans have been successfully returned in three and a half tons, and 70956 people have participated in the return plan. On May 31, Santen banye announced the return schedule of the sixth season. The return plan for the new season will add 9 cities and 49 return points, running through 214 cafes in 65 cities.
In the field of new tea, Xi tea skillfully matches environmental protection with exhibitions loved by young people. The recycling of “green tea” and the display of offline stores were held in June and November 2020 respectively, which is the application of this concept. By recycling the paper cups, cup covers, paper bags, straws, etc. in the store, and integrating the natural color of the tea residue peel, it can be made into environmental protection products or artistic display settings. Xi tea interprets its environmental protection aesthetics under the concept of “regeneration”. Official data show that as of June, Xicha has recycled more than 1800 kg of drink cups, and the environmental protection products made were displayed in offline stores in October.
Image source: wechat official account heytea happy tea

Two way interaction with consumers to make environmental protection a trend

As the “best nutrition brand”, plant labels use story and visual impact to penetrate into the minds of consumers, making environmental protection more three-dimensional. In July last year, the plant label, together with 50 boutique cafes in Shanghai, took the lead in creating the environmental protection theme activity of “earth c00l rises”. By creating coffee ideas such as melting the earth, swelling deserts, melting polar bears on glaciers, and rising sea levels, it called on consumers to pay attention to environmental protection. At the same time, by reproducing the story behind coffee, consumers can feel the value of participating in environmental protection activities. This is not the first environmental protection activity for plant labels. As early as November 2020, plant labels used to hold the beach cleaning action, inviting people nearby to go to the beach and collected a total of 209 kg of garbage. It is reported that this year, plant labels will continue and upgrade the theme activity, and it is expected to invite more brands to join, reach more consumers, and set off an environmental protection boom.
Image source: plant label official website
Pepsi connects environmental protection with fashion, creating a new way of playing “virtual environmental protection fashion”. On June 17, PepsiCo and insert plan unveiled their first virtual environmental protection fashion release at the first season of Digital Shanghai Fashion week. Through fashion, accessories and art pieces with a sense of design, they not only vividly presented the theme of “no plastic into waste”, but also used this more fashionable way to integrate sustainability into the pursuit of life aesthetics. In this cooperation, PepsiCo’s classic logo, iconic red, white and blue color matching and bottle body design were integrated into the works of art exhibited this time. At the same time, the virtual presentation also fits the value concept of environmental protection and low carbon, and gives designers more free creative space. It is reported that Pepsi and NERT plan will use plastic degradation and other environmental protection materials to make some virtual exhibits into real objects in the future.
Image source: Weibo Pepsi Cola

Touching with emotion, it endows healing and emotional value for sustainability

Using the characteristics of green plant-based and light burden, sustainability can also become a way of life. On March 1, KFC teamed up with the brand of vegetable protein food on Monday to launch two new meals: vegetable meat pastry rice balls and Jinsha salted egg yolk vegetable meat pastry rice balls. In order to deepen communication, the brand refined the idea of “light desire”. By inviting five KOLs who pay attention to lifestyle, the brand photographed the aesthetics of light desire in a more environmentally friendly way, and naturally linked products with freedom and green.
Kin euphorics, a functional drink made of functional ingredients such as adaptive raw herbs and plant extracts, focuses on women’s social market, and achieves the effect of relaxing body and mind and relieving pressure by emphasizing the botanical and non-alcoholic “drinking slightly drunk”. Kin euphorics also holds 4-6 offline activities for its members every month, from seminars, self-service receptions, yoga, jogging, and various activities focusing on conditioning women’s body and mind to strengthen the brand concept of brand comfort and healing.
Image source: kin euphorics official website


From overseas to China, the issue of sustainability has become increasingly hot all over the world. Countries, enterprises and consumers, as well as more subjects, have begun to make their own efforts for the health of the earth.
Although there is still a long way to go for sustainable development, from the product end to the consumer end, we have also seen the effective implementation of various practitioners in the food industry in different aspects. I believe that in the near future, the industry can emerge more updated solutions to create a truly sustainable green future!
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