Conagra’s Evol brand to introduce carbon-neutral frozen meals

Dive Brief:

  • Conagra’s Evol brand will introduce eight meals that are certified carbon neutral this June. The products will be verified by the Carbonfree Product Certification Program, making them the first single-serve frozen offering to receive this designation, the CPG company said.
  • The Chicago-based food manufacturer said eight different Evol single-serve meals will receive the certification, including its new Five Cheese Alfredo Mac with Chicken, as well as existing offerings such as Truffle Parmesan Mac & Cheese and Butternut Squash & Sage Ravioli.
  • The product launch is the latest step taken by a food and beverage manufacturer to protect the environment and address shopper concerns. 

Dive Insight:

As consumers take into account the role a brand plays when it comes to the environment, a growing number of companies are making changes. From regenerative agriculture, recyclable packaging and getting more of their energy from renewable sources, CPGs are embracing a large swath of options — and oftentimes making sure the public is aware of such initiatives by proudly touting it on their packaging.

Evol, which is displaying the carbon-neutral feat on the top of its box, has made environmental stewardship a key part of its brand. 

Several Evol products are produced in facilities that have diverted an average of 90% or greater waste from landfills or other waste reductions in the last 12 months, according to Conagra. All of its paperboard cartons are fully recyclable, the company said. And, the brand switched from 100% plastic to paper-based bowls, which lowered the carbon footprint of its packaging.

Conagra as a whole also is curtailing its greenhouse gas emissions, last year pledging to reduce by 25% Scope 1 and Scope 1 emissions in its supply chain by 2030.

Carbonfund.org Foundation Certified Carbonfree products have “net zero” CO2 emissions. This means brands measure the carbon footprint of the products over their full lifecycle — from ingredient sourcing and packaging, to product manufacturing, distribution and consumer use and end of life.

The brands then invest in projects that remove an equal amount of carbon from the atmosphere. Evol is offsetting the meals’ carbon footprint with investments in renewable wind energy and forest preservation projects verified by Carbonfund.org.

Evol is one of only a few brands to receive this certification. A spokesperson with Carbonfund.org said the only other food and beverage products currently registered are Grounds for Change Coffee and three flavors of Riff Energy Drink.

“Consumers increasingly are looking to purchase products from companies that are taking care of our environment,” Eric Carlson, president of Carbonfund.org, said in a statement. “Climate change and carbon reductions are major drivers of purchasing decisions.”

A study this year from Cargill said 55% of global consumers are more likely to purchase a packaged food item that is labeled with a sustainability claim, up four points from the company’s last survey in 2019. For food companies like Conagra, initiatives such as the Carbonfree Product Certification Program show consumers that they share their values by implementing concrete action and offering first-hand proof to back it up.

In addition to Conagra, nearly every major food and beverage company has committed to improving its environmental impact, including Mondelēz International, Nestlé, Mars, Unilever, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.

More than one-third of greenhouse gas emissions come from food production, according to a United Nations report issued last year. Last week, the organization said about a quarter of the greenhouse gas cuts needed to prevent the worst impacts of climate change could come from food and agriculture.