Panera Labels 55% of Entrees ‘Climate Friendly’

The designation indicates whether the salad, sandwich or soup has a low carbon footprint.

October 19, 2020

ST. LOUIS—Panera Bread has become the first national chain to designate whether its entrees are climate friendly, CNBC reports. More than half (55%) of the chain’s soups, sandwiches and salads earned the distinction of “Cool Food Meal,” a label from the World Resources Institute. The designation means that the ingredients in dishes such as Broccoli Cheddar soup or Mediterranean Bowl have a carbon footprint of less than 5.38 kilograms.

“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,” said Sara Burnett, vice president of food values, sustainability and public affairs of the “Cool Food Meal” label.

In 2016, Panera pledge to reduce its carbon emissions by 15% per square foot by 2022. CEO Niren Chaudhary said the company will meet that goal. The chain is using the “Cool Food Meal” designation to raise awareness of the relationship between food and greenhouse gas emissions. Panera will also add more plant-based items to its menu from 25% to more than 50% over the next few years.

“There’s a natural skepticism that consumers have any time companies get involved in environmental or social responsibility initiatives,” said Daniel Korschun, an associate marketing professor at Drexel University. “If a company is able to make some credible claims on these types of initiatives, then it can really drive some loyalty on the part of consumers because they’re purchasing more than just the product, they’re purchasing an affirmation of who they are and what they stand for personally.”

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