The Food Service Industry Protein Sustainability Scorecard

Our food system has major impacts on the environment. Agriculture occupies half of all ice-free land on Earth, and the global food system is responsible for 20%-37% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Animal products have a much larger environmental footprint than plant-based foods, using more resources and causing more greenhouse gas emissions. For example, it takes many pounds of crops used as animal feed to produce just one pound of meat; it would be more efficient to feed those crops to humans directly. In addition, breeding, housing, transporting, killing and processing animals uses a massive amount of energy and produces an enormous amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

A shift toward plant-based foods is the most impactful way food companies can reduce their carbon footprint, prevent deforestation, minimize demand for water and land resources, improve food security and preserve natural habitats.

Due to client demand and public sentiment, nearly every major food service company has sustainability goals. But if the goals don’t center on food, particularly shifting to climate-friendly, plant-based offerings, then they get into the infamous territory of “greenwashing” (the practice of making deceptive claims about your company’s environmental record). That’s why we developed this Protein Sustainability Scorecard: to figure out which food service companies are actually committed to their social responsibility of protecting the environment and which are just greenwashing.

Our survey focused on three main topics to determine how much a company is truly doing when it comes to sustainability: transparency, goals and a plan of action. This survey was designed to gauge where the nation’s largest food service companies are currently on this issue, as well as to understand what resources are still needed to support their sustainability objectives.

The results are in