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Selling your Innocents

Food24's Cath Shone wonders what price you can put on your Innocents?

by: Cathrine Shone: Food24 | 16 Apr 2009

We all start off wanting to save the world – then somewhere along the line we end up losing sight of our vision. Selling our innocence to the highest bidder.

What better example of this than the latest acquisition by the most gigantic of all giants, Coca Cola: a little smoothie company called Innocent.

This little smoothie company was started when three lads named Richard, Adam and Jon, who met whilst studying at Cambridge, decided one day to sell smoothies at a West London jazz festival. Butter wouldn't melt in their mouths.

But just like tree-huggers Ben and Jerry's ice-cream got into bed with Unilever, Pret A Manger with McDonald's and Green and Blacks organic chocolate with Cadbury; Innocent has sold out.

So why did three guys who three years ago mashed up a table full of fruit sell out a portion of their business to a company synonymous with globalisation for 30 million quid? To go into Europe where only 20-25 % of stores stock their ethical smoothies, for starters.

Richard, Adam and Jon are insisting that their idealistic business practises, in a company that employs only 250 people, would not be compromised by getting into bed with the corporate giants.

Does the size of your footprint matter?
But is Coca Cola the devil and is Innocent as pure as the glowing halo on their labels? When it comes to the issue of who leaves the biggest carbon footprint it seems there is very little to separate these two brands.

A study done with the government-funded Carbon Trust shows a standard 330ml can of Coke embodies the equivalent of 170g of carbon dioxide or CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent is the internationally recognised measure of greenhouse emissions) and Innocent's 250ml bottle of mango and passion fruit smoothie has a carbon footprint of 209g.

The main reason for this is coke's cans are 100% recyclable, but a small glass bottle of the same drink has a footprint of 360g.

So how do you measure a product's "carbon footprint" fairly? New ideas are emerging in a global quest for answers to environmental issues.

Innocent's idea of "carbon calories" calculates that in a world with reduced greenhouse gas emissions the average person could afford to eat and drink 2,900g of CO2e each day – and a smoothie would use just 1% of that total.

In the future labels could say how much carbon is manifested in every pound spent, allowing consumers to compare the impact of anything from a packet of NikNaks to a Hummer.

So can we expect everything we buy to have a label on it conveniently exonerating us from destroying our environment?

It is all rather confusing to me – but I can say one thing – the eyes of the world are increasingly on the big companies to do more, and the pressure is on, so maybe selling out to them is not such a bad thing?

Surely its not as simple as a label on your fruit smoothie?

- None


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