Barilla released its environmental, social and corporate governance goals (ESG) report July 26, outlining the ways in which the company advanced its sustainability, nutrition and wellness goals in 2021. The title of the sustainability report, “The joy of food for a better life,” is Barilla’s new motto, and is “a concept that transcends good food to refer to people’s happiness and holistic well-being, which begins most of all with ‘taste,’” according to the company.
Since 2010, Barilla has reduced carbon emissions by 31% and water consumption by 18%, both per ton of finished product, and the company has reformulated 488 products to improve nutrition levels. Seventy percent of raw materials, including durum wheat, soft wheat, rye, basil, tomatoes, cocoa and vegetable oils are grown using sustainable practices. In 2021, 55 new products were launched with an eye to expanding accessibility to consumers with dietary or nutritional restrictions.
The company’s new Barilla Nutrition Index designates products into three categories depending on nutrition level. The guidelines were formulated by Barilla’s Health and Wellbeing Advisory Board, also using international nutrition recommendations from organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO) and Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). Products are graded on a scale from 0 to a maximum of 1.25 and the categories are called “Joy for You” (foods recommended to consume in moderation), “Better for You” (reformulated and new products with improved nutrients based on the category average) and “Good for You” (products fully compliant with the nutritional guidelines).
“Our commitment starts with the products’ recipes, which we are continuously improving to offer tastier, safe products that are nutritionally balanced,” the company said.
barilla esg bar graph
The effort to reformulate products focused mainly on reducing sugar, salt, fat and saturated fat, while increasing fiber content where possible. In 2021, the company reformulated the recipes of 13 products, versus 26 products in 2020 and 35 in 2019. New product launches have been focused on expanding product accessibility and nutritional value. Launches have included the addition of 14 wholemeal flour-based bread products, crackers, savory snacks, pasta and biscuits; three new fiber-rich biscuits; three new tomato pasta sauces made without added sugar; two new gluten-free pastas; and four new single-portion products each under 150 calories. In 2021, there were a total of 55 new product launches that met nutritional standards, compared to 34 in 2020 and 22 in 2019.
Three new pulse flour-based biscuits bring together Barilla’s health-and-wellness and sustainability goals, as pulses are both high in protein and support regenerative agricultural practices, according to the company. An all-new chocolate and caramel checkerboard biscuit is made using flour sourced entirely from farms practicing sustainable agriculture, chocolate purchased in support of the Cocoa Horizons project and eggs from free-range hens.
Barilla has established a Sustainable Agriculture Code (SAC) that outlines the company’s preferred practices from suppliers. The SAC’s five principles include: improving the efficiency and competitiveness of the agricultural system; acting with integrity and following the Barilla Code of Ethics; a belief in listening and collaborating for ongoing improvement; researching food quality and safety; and reducing the impact of production on the environment.
“Suppliers have always been essential partners, with whom Barilla establishes direct, long-term relationships that are founded on transparency and from whom it requires compliance with the ethical and quality principles, and principles pertaining to the protection of the environment and of human rights,” the company said.
In 2021, Barilla’s share of responsibly purchased raw materials was 70%, up seven percentage points from 2020. To manage and analyze the environmental impact of product life cycles — from the growing and sourcing raw materials to final consumption — Barilla uses its Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology, which is currently applied to 80% of production values. The LAC assesses supply chain factors including total carbon emissions, water consumption and soil area used.
By Gloria Cowdin
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