Little Freddie: A climate footprint growth spurt

Think of an adult foodie brand and 100 come to mind. Now think of a baby foodie brand – is it taking longer? We hand you the answer: It’s Little Freddie! When it comes to baby food, they believe our children deserve better. From the quality of their ingredients to the future of their planet, everything they do, they do to give them the best in life. As part of their Big Green Plan, Little Freddie has now become the world’s first baby food brand to go transparent with their climate footprint. And this is just the beginning!

Named after founder Piers Buck’ son, the idea for Little Freddie was first conceived in 2014. Piers spotted an opportunity to develop the business after feeling something special was missing from the baby food market. Launching the first signature Little Freddie pouch in Hong Kong in 2016, two years later the brand entered the UK. Today, Little Freddie is the top-selling baby food puree brand in Asia and has a wide range of products sold in 12 countries.

Little Freddie is convenient without the compromise. Every ingredient in their recipes is selected with quality, responsibility, and remarkable flavor in mind. At the same time, Little Freddie looks beyond the plate and at the bigger picture.

Piers Buck – Founder & CEO at Little Freddie

In 2019, the brand created their Big Green Plan with a simple goal: To become a business that gives more than it takes. The plan focuses on minimizing the brand’s impact on the planet by prioritizing initiatives such as sending zero pouches to landfill, reducing food waste and of course, knowing and showing their climate footprint.

We spoke with Nicola Smith, Group Senior Sustainability Manager at Little Freddie to find out more about their experience of climate-footprinting with CarbonCloud.

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    Little Freddie’s first steps with climate footprints

    Little Freddie already had an idea of their climate impact… And then came their work with CarbonCloud to give them the full picture. Nicola describes:

    Having gathered emissions-related data as far up the supply chain as we could go, we knew we needed to go further and understand our impact at the farm-level to ensure we had the full picture. Working with CarbonCloud was a natural next step for us. Climate footprinting allows us to identify the true cost of our products and tells us where we should best manage our time and resources.
    Nicola Smith
    Group Senior Sustainability Manager at Little Freddie

    The first case of dairy products becoming climate transparent

    Beginning with their best-selling signature Greek style yoghurt range, Little Freddie initially prepared themselves for worse. Most brands with animal-based ingredients are traditionally reluctant to communicate their climate footprint. Having little to compare themselves against, Little Freddie didn’t know what number they could end up with at the end of the process. In fact, Nicola admits:

    Joining CarbonCloud, measuring and calculating our footprints was an easy decision. However, publishing the footprint publicly was something we did initially struggle with. We had internal conversations about whether displaying our climate footprint was the way to go and whether it would make sense to consumers.

    She continues:

    No company with animal-based products has adopted a climate label, and in the end, we decided that companies should not be shying away from sharing this information because we believe transparency always resonates better with customers.

    Insights from Little Freddie’s climate scale-up

    Following the completion of climate footprints for five of their products – three yoghurt and two fruit-blended purees – Nicola pointed out the benefits of comparing the two ranges:

    We source ingredients from around the world and therefore assumed transport would make up the largest proportion of our emissions despite our no air freight policy for all raw materials. However, for every product, agriculture had the largest impact. Although all our ingredients are organic, we cannot underestimate the impact the growing, harvest and refinement process of these raw materials will have on the environment.

    And whilst the footprints confirmed that the yoghurt-containing products had higher climate footprints than the fruit-blended purees, the difference still came at quite a shock. Nicola explains:

    Mapping our yoghurts on CarbonCloud showed us that dairy contributed up to 70% of the total ingredient emissions. We expected our animal-based products to have a high impact, but it was much larger than we anticipated!

    When asked if they would consider removing yoghurt from their products following this knowledge, Nicola stated:

    As a baby food brand, our products must always prioritise the health and wellbeing of babies which is why we believe in having animal-based protein and calcium in our products. Our challenge therefore is how to balance this with global calls to shift towards a more plant-based diet.

    Supply chain optimization

    Despite the initial trepidations, climate transparency has paid off for Little Freddie. As Nicola tells us, supplier engagement has increased. Moreover, the ripple effect has suppliers looking into their own climate impact and how to reduce it. Nicola attributes this to increased transparency, data sharing, and the suppliers’ openness to meaningful practices.

    Operationally it has allowed us to identify where we can make changes to climate-optimise our current production process. We can see that emissions from freight transport is an area for us to tackle, so we’re now working on alternative routes and modes of transport to reduce our carbon emissions as we move our ingredients and baby food around the world, for example using multi-modal transport (rail, road and sea) as opposed to just road.
    Breakdown of climate footprint in Little Freddie

    Little Freddie are also working towards climate-optimizing their production process – in both new and existing products. They are currently preparing the launch of a brand-new product with a low carbon footprint at its core. Nicola explains:

    Because we intend to launch the product with a climate footprint label, we have been able to integrate key sustainability considerations into the decision-making process to ensure that the climate footprint is as low as it can get. For example, the new range is plant-based, uses low carbon and recyclable packaging and is being made locally here in the UK.

    Little Freddie’s climate footprints out in the world

    Little Freddie’s community also responded well. Following the publication of their five climate footprints, the feedback has been widely positive.

    We have received some amazing feedback and support from our parents on our social channels, which has been really rewarding for us. Our parents appreciate that we are trying our best and being transparent. It has been great seeing messages from our parents asking for more of our products to be labelled and to put it on our packaging- which we have just done on our new Creamy Pink Lady Greek Style Yoghurt Multipack on Ocado. It has motivated us to continue to help parents make more informed choices and inspire other brands, especially the bigger players, to follow suit.

    As Nicola points out, the ripple effect of Little Freddie’s climate transparency continues, and the brand hopes it translates across the entire industry. Little Freddie was part of the KNOWVEMBER campaign in late 2021, joining forces with CarbonCloud and other climate-transparent food brands in the UK to amplify the message.

    Little Freddie has a Big Green Plan. The suppliers are on board and the parents are too. Nicola highlights: ‘we hope others in our industry and beyond join us in quantifying their own impact’.