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Carbon labelling comes to food menus

Just Salad recently announced plans to add carbon labels to its menu, becoming the first US restaurant chain to offer this option. The score for each menu item will be calculated in partnership with a team at the NYU Stern School of Business, and will indicate the total estimated greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of ingredients in each menu item. According to Just Salad, the carbon labels will be added to menus by Climate Week, which starts September 21. In addition, the brand pledged to add plant-based cheese options, which have a lower carbon footprint than their animal-based counterparts, to its menu by 2022 or earlier – this follows the introduction of plant-based Beyond Beef in 2019. 

Eagle-eyed readers will remember we previously featured Allbirds’ initiative to calculate the carbon footprint of every sneaker style in the brand’s collection. Since then, we’ve also seen Unilever pledge to put carbon labels on 70,000 products. This announcement from Just Salad is a reminder of something we’ve been saying for a long time at TrendWatching but is always worth repeating: that customer expectations quickly transfer across industries, regions and demographics. When you’re thinking about ‘the competition’, are you thinking broadly about who that really is? In today’s topsy-turvy world, that just might be more important than ever! 

Just Salad also has their eye on a broader shift that’s been accelerated by the pandemic: the demand for plant-based alternatives. According to data compiled by the UN, per-capita meat consumption is set to fall by almost 3% in 2020 to the lowest level since 2011– the decline is a result of hospitality closures, economic factors, production issues (with numerous slaughterhouses shutting down) and, yes, concerns about viruses in factory-farmed meat. Just Salad had already introduced plant-based alternatives, now they are pushing that concept further with the introduction of cheese alternatives. What broad shifts are being accelerated by the pandemic within your industry – and beyond it? How will you innovate to anticipate and surpass new demands and expectations in the coming months?

Stay healthy,

The TrendWatching content team