Meal kits more eco-friendly than supermarkets

Meal kits more eco-friendly than supermarkets

  • 5 February 2020
It’s official: Meal kits have a smaller carbon footprint than grocery shopping.

A scientific study published in the journal Resources, Conservation and Recycling last year calculated the greenhouse gas emissions of several meals made from meal kits, and the same meals when made from supermarket ingredients.

This study, completed by researchers from University of Michigan, is the first scientific study done on the environmental impact of meal kits.

The researchers found that the carbon footprint of meal kits was smaller than that of preparing the same meal from groceries bought from the supermarket: grocery-sourced meal greenhouse gas emissions were 33% higher than meal kits meals.

How did they get these results?

To determine the carbon footprint of the meals they calculated the greenhouse gas emissions at each stage in the life cycle of meal kits and meals made from supermarket ingredients. The life cycle includes everything from the food’s production at the farm, all the way to your fork, or unfortunately, a landfill.

Each stage of this life cycle contributes in some way to a meals carbon footprint. But the stages which have the biggest effects on carbon emissions are food production, distribution, and food waste.

Waste not, want not

Food waste is a huge problem and makes up a huge part of food's carbon footprint. Most food is wasted during the distribution and consumption stages of the life cycle. If you look at countries overall carbon emissions, Food waste is said to be the 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the USA.

Because meal kits only deliver the food you need to cook the meal - no (or very little) food is wasted at the consumption stage. Supermarket ingredients are not pre-portioned, which means a higher food loss and waste, especially for fresh fruit and vegetables that go off before you have a chance to eat them all. Think about how many times you’ve bought a big bag of salad leaves thinking you’ll eat it all, but have had to throw half of them out cause they went off so quickly?

Often a lot of food is wasted in the grocery store itself - because supermarkets often overstock food that expires before it is sold. With meal kits, the number of consumers ordering a specific meal is known beforehand so that the company can just source the ingredients they know they will sell.

Simpler supply chain

The supply chain is basically the route food takes to get to your kitchen. A supermarket supply chain tends to be much longer than meal kits, which means more distribution and more carbon emissions.

Just think about the emissions of a grocery shopping trip. You plan to cook a specific meal and drive to a supermarket to buy the ingredients. Only to find that they are out of stock, or dont even stock, half the ingredients you need. So you drive across town to another supermarket. Once you finally get home and start to cook your dinner, you realize you forgot an ingredient and then it’s off to the shops again. All the emissions of these car trips add up. However with a meal kit delivery, you dont even need to drive to the shops. Your meal kit is delivered straight to your doorstep by couriers. Yes, they are also driving a car, but chances are they are driving through your area delivering parcels everyday anyways.

Supermarkets also import a lot of products, some of which you may be very surprised at. Shipping food from across the world is definitely not sustainable, compared to sourcing from local quality suppliers like we do.

But what about packaging waste?

The study found that food waste and distribution contributed far more to a meal’s carbon footprint than it’s packaging. Even so, we are still committed to reducing our plastic waste in our meal kits and making recycling simple for our customers.

When your courier comes for delivery, hand back your cardboard box and ice packs from the previous week and we’ll reuse it. We’ve also ensured that our ingredients for meals are separated into individual, fully recyclable brown bags.

So not only are Daily Dish meal kits convenient, delicious and healthy - they are probably more environmentally friendly than your supermarket dinner.