- General Mills-owned Epic brand has launched the Beef-Barbacoa Inspired Bar, said to be the first bar to carry the Savory Institute’s Land to Market Ecological Outcome Verification (EOV) Seal, according to an emailed press release. “The beef in this product was raised using regenerative farming practices that improve soil health, biodiversity, and ecosystem function,” according to the brand.
- The bar contains beef sourced from White Oak Pastures, which offsets 80% of its greenhouse gas emissions through regenerating soil practices, according to General Mills. It will be sold exclusively on Epic’s website and at Whole Foods starting in February with a suggested retail price of $3.29.
- While the new Epic product isn’t a meat alternative bar, it shows how companies can take steps to reduce their carbon footprint when producing meat products.
Plant-based foods may be promoted as a more environmentally friendly alternative to animal protein, but the Epic Beef Barbacoa-Inspired Bar shows that meat products can also demonstrate a sustainability commitment.
As some companies focused more on going “green” and keeping their environmental impact to a minimum, regenerative agriculture is becoming more popular. White Oak Pastures, which is sourcing the beef for the bars, has been able to offset its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% with regenerative soil practices, according to the press release. The regenerative-farming process can be looked at as a middle ground between organic farming and more traditional processes. Some practices include cover cropping and making sure crop rotation is varied.
“Regenerative agriculture is about improving soil health, sequestering carbon, increasing water tables, and fostering biodiversity,” said Chris Kerston, co-leader of Savory Institute’s Land to Market program, in the press release. “This product is part of a movement that’s cultivating a new era of food democracy — allowing consumers to truly connect with environmental outcomes like never before.”
General Mills has made its own commitment to use regenerative agriculture methods on 1 million acres of soil for oats, wheat, corn, dairy feed and sugar beets by 2030.
Interest in sustainability has continued to grow during the pandemic. According to a report from IRI and the NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business, sustainability-focused products actually saw a 56% sales boom during a one-week period in March in the start of the pandemic. A 2020 survey by Kearney found that 11% of consumers were changing their purchasing habits to align with environmental standards. Millennials, along with college educated or high income consumers, are more likely to gravitate toward sustainable items.
Other major brands have taken steps to tackle their carbon footprint. Last year, Mondelez’s SnackFutures innovation hub debuted NoCoé, said to be the first carbon-neutral snack brand. Horizon Organic committed to being carbon-positive across its supply chain by 2025. And in 2019, Maple Leaf Foods announced it was the first major food company to become carbon neutral.
This past September, General Mills announced it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions across its full value chain by 30% by 2030, and reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The Beef Barbacoa-Inspired Bar is just one step toward that commitment to sustainability. But if it performs well, it could provide the food giant with another proven tool to meet its net-zero goals.