Upfield, the company that owns Blueband has published data to show that consumers and chefs have avoided emitting an estimated 6 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide within the past year. The chefs under study all bought their plant-based butters, margarines and instead of dairy butter.

The Upside, which can also be referred to as emissions savings was measured based on data and product sales over the calendar year of 2020. This has enabled consumers to avoid double the emissions that Upfield is responsible for.

By aiming to quantify The Upside, Upfield has become the first food company to pilot a methodology that estimates the carbon emissions avoided by its portfolio. This is by purely manufacturing plant-based butters, margarines and spreads as opposed to dairy butter.

This approach is a first step in setting the standard for a consistent framework and methodology that would allow companies to quantify the benefits of their lower-impact products. This is by highlighting the differences between food companies and the portfolio of products they offer.

Commenting on the new data published, Sally Smith, Head of Sustainability at Upfield said, “This data helps demonstrate that choosing just one company’s plant-based products can help consumers save emissions by the same magnitude as planting a large forest. The scientific consensus is that we need a plant-based shift to tackle the crisis in climate and nature. We encourage policymakers and stakeholders to consider the insight from this approach and its implications for sustainable diets worldwide.”

Making dairy butter causes substantially damaging methane emissions from cows, in addition to growing crops for cattle feed, whereas plant-based production relies only on crops. The UN Environment Program (UNEP) has advised that reducing agricultural emissions from cattle should be one of the immediate priorities to limit global warming as soon as possible.

The Upside was estimated by Anthesis, a leading global sustainability consultancy using their Portfolio Footprinting Methodology. This takes detailed peer reviewed and published Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) data and scales this up to a portfolio level based on sales data and the assumption that consumers and chefs bought plant-based butters instead of dairy butter.

Simon Davis, Agrifood Lead at Anthesis commented “We’re excited to have worked with Upfield to develop a draft methodology that enables them to estimate the benefits of their plant-based product portfolios. It is equally as exciting to have begun a process of developing something that can articulate the role plant-based products can have in food-system transformation. We invite businesses, policymakers and stakeholders to help support and collaborate in order to refine the approach and look forward to the next stage in the journey.”