Panera Bread becomes first national chain to label entrees as climate friendly

A Panera Bread store shows an indication they’re open amid the coronavirus pandemic on April 5, 2020 in New York City.

John Lamparski | Getty Images

A decade in the past, Panera Bread grew to become the first national restaurant chain to disclose the calorie counts of its menu objects.

Starting Wednesday, it’ll additionally lead the cost in labeling objects as climate friendly.

Whenever the components of the chain’s salads, sandwiches and soups collectively have a footprint of lower than 5.38 kilograms of carbon dioxide equal, the menu merchandise will carry a badge proclaiming the entree a “Cool Food Meal,” the designation from the World Resources Institute.

Panera labored with the environmental suppose tank to calculate the carbon footprint of the menu, with 55% of its entrees incomes the badge. Menu objects with the excellence embrace its Broccoli Cheddar soup and Mediterranean Bowl.

CEO Niren Chaudhary stated in an interview that the change is supposed to elevate consciousness concerning the hyperlink between meals and greenhouse gasoline emissions and provides clients the power to make an knowledgeable resolution. Grains, fruit and veggies are on the decrease finish of the size, whereas dairy merchandise and meat are on the increased finish.

A 2019 report from the United Nations discovered that the worldwide meals system accounts for 37% of worldwide greenhouse gasoline emissions. In current years, in response to analysis and rising public stress, the restaurant trade has turn out to be extra concerned within the combat in opposition to climate change, pledging to restrict waste and add extra plant-based proteins to menus. One of essentially the most bold proposals comes from Starbucks, the second-largest restaurant chain by gross sales, which stated in January that it’s striving to turn out to be “resource positive.”

Panera, which has been privately held for 3 years, pledged in 2016 to decrease its carbon emissions by 15% per sq. foot by 2022. Chaudhary stated that the corporate is on observe to meet that purpose. The chain can be planning to enhance the variety of plant-based choices on its menu from 25% to half over the following few years.

Sara Burnett, Panera’s vp of wellness and meals coverage, stated that greater than half of Panera’s carbon footprint comes from the meals that it serves.

Just Salad, which has areas throughout six states, applied carbon labeling earlier this yr. Unlike Panera, its labels disclose the precise carbon footprint. A Buffalo Caesar Salad, for instance, has 0.77 kilograms of carbon dioxide equal.

Burnett in contrast Panera’s “Cool Food Meal” badge to Good Housekeeping’s seal of approval.

“Our mind hasn’t really wrapped around what that value is, so we wanted to make it as easy as possible for consumers to get it,” she stated.

Panera hopes that, like its disclosure of calorie counts, its use of the badge will set up a brand new benchmark for the restaurant trade.

“This can be meaningful if it starts multiplying,” Chadhaury stated.

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