Panera’s CEO wants to make climate change tracking the new calorie count
- Panera will now label menu items that have a lower impact on the climate.
- The items will be dubbed “Cool Food Meals,” and make up more than half of the chain’s menu.
- “We talked about caloric value a couple of years back, and now everybody’s aware of that and providing choice to their customers,” Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary told Business Insider. “Now, I think we feel that we want to raise transparency and awareness on the carbon footprint of the food.”
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Panera wants to make seeing how much a menu item contributes to climate change as natural as checking for a calorie count.
On Wednesday, the chain announced it would begin labeling climate-friendly menu items as “Cool Food Meals.” These are items that have a lower impact on the climate, according to a collaboration with nonprofit World Resources Institute (WRI).
“We talked about caloric value couple of years back, and now everybody’s aware of that and providing choice to their customers,” Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary told Business Insider. “Now, I think we feel that we want to raise transparency and awareness on the carbon footprint of the food that our consumers eat.”
More than half of Panera’s menu — 55% — qualifies for the “Cool Food Meals” badge. While items without meat and dairy tend to reduce carbon emissions, Chipotle classics including the Chipotle Chicken Avocado Melt and Broccoli Cheddar Soup make the cut.
The wisdom of emphasizing personal success in terms of combatting climate change has been hotly debated. A frequently-cited 2017 study found that 70% of greenhouse gas emissions can be traced back to 100 fossil fuel companies.
However, the food and beverage industry also accounts for roughly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. Chaudhary said that Panera decided to add the option in part because the food the company purchases accounts for more than half of the company’s carbon footprint. But, the move is not intended to absolve Panera of making other efforts around climate change.
“We’ve always said the personal responsibility starts with us,” Sara Burnett, Panera’s vice president of food values, sustainability and public affairs, said. “And then we want to also provide information to guests to make their own decisions.”
Still, Panera and WRI say that customers’ order can make a difference. According to the chain, if every person in the US swapped 10 Chipotle Chicken Avocado Melt sandwiches with chips for 10 quarter-pound burgers with fries, it would reduce emissions by the equivalent of 77 million metric tons of carbon dioxide — a reduction equivalent to taking 16 million cars off the road for a year.
(the headline, this story has not been published by Important India News staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)