Socially Responsible: Nature’s Path

by Melissa Gallanter, RD
Nature's Path Socially Responsible

Part of an ongoing series about interesting,  food companies.

What the company does: 

The ethos of Nature’s Path is to “work in harmony with nature” and to honor the “ancient wisdoms” of the earth. The company is dedicated to being socially responsible by creating delicious organic breakfast and snack foods that suit a variety of dietary needs, but beyond their products, Nature’s Path strongly pledges to reach sustainability goals and actively give back to communities in need. 

The seeds of this vision were planted when Arran Stephens was growing up on the family’s organic berry farm on Vancouver Island where his father instilled the importance of caring for the soil and the earth. Nature’s Path products were the first USDA certified organic cereals on the market. Since its inception in 1985, the company has continued to improve on its own sustainable practices and to maintain strong efforts in organic advocacy work. 

For fifty years, Arran, and for over three decades, Ratana, his wife and Co-Founder have been key leaders behind major organic, plant-based and non-GMO product and program developments that help consumers eat well, feel better and do good, offering innovative and nutritious brands under their popular Nature’s Path, Que Pasa, EnviroKidz, and Love Crunch brands.

How the company is socially responsible:

Nature’s Path is built on and works within six pillars of sustainability in order to fulfill the mission of leaving the earth better than they found it:

1. Grow Organic

Only certified USDA Organic and Canada Organic ingredients are used for Nature’s Path products. According to statistics from Nature’s Path, their commitment to organic products has kept more than 70,500 tons of chemical fertilizers and more than 1,000 tons of pesticides out of the soil between 2013-2016.

2. Become Carbon Neutral

Nature’s Path continues to make its manufacturing and packaging increasingly more sustainable in order to achieve its goal of becoming climate neutral by 2020. To reach that goal, they are currently trying to reduce their use of electricity, paperboard, and CO2 emissions per ton of product produced.

3. Achieve Zero Waste

Nature’s Path has been dedicated to sustainable packaging since 1993, when the company launched ECO PAC packaging for its cereal products, minimizing the packaging by 66 percent.  In 2002 they started selling products in bulk, and in 2011 they obtained a Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for using 100 percent recyclable cardboard and paperboard printed with vegetable-based inks for their packaging in order to make their containers as environmentally friendly as the food within. 

In 2017, Nature’s Path  joined the label standardization system How2Recycle, and in 2018 became the only food manufacturing company with multinational sites to be all zero-waste certified. All three of the company’s manufacturing facilities maintain a  Zero Waste Certification by the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council. 

4. Preserve Water

Nature’s Path sends some of the waste water it generates to a biodigester to be converted into energy. In addition, they are implementing an internal Environmental Management System implement, achieve, review, and maintain environmental policy and to continue making greater strides toward water preservation.

5. Educate, Inspire, and Engage

To expand its impact made on the planet, Nature’s Path aims to inspire others to action. In the last decade, Nature’s Path has donated more than $27,000,000 worth of food to local charities, food banks, and environmental partners through their Eat Well Do Good initiative, the Bite4Bite program, and the 1% for the Planet partnership.

Since 2009, the company has hosted annual Eat Well Do Good “foodraisers” in order to donate food in the communities where their team members live and work. This initiative started when founder Arran Stephens heard the Dalai Lama speak about compassion and was instantly inspired to promote greater access to clean food. For these events, members of the general public are encouraged to donate food and funds to those in need within the local community. 

In an effort to engage and educate the young consumers of their EnviroKidz product line, each animal featured on the front of these products represents a vulnerable or endangered species that the company helps through partner organizations. EnviroKidz 1% for the Planet partnership includes but is not limited to helping the Amazon Conservation Team to protect Blue Macaws, the Defenders of Wildlife to protect and restore species such as caribou, and the Australian Koala Foundation to map koala habitats across the continent.

6. Give Back 

Through financial contributions, in-kind donations, and the encouragement of volunteering within the team, Nature’s Path supports like-minded initiatives and organizations in order to build community and better the world. These projects include those dedicated to  hunger relief, youth and environmental education, and habitat restoration. 

The founder’s son, Arjan, and his bride, Rimjhim, asked the guests at their wedding to volunteer or do something they were passionate about instead of giving gifts. As a thank you to their guests for having such a positive impact on the world, the couple gave them what soon became “Love Crunch”, an indulgent, chocolatey granola Arjan had created, as wedding favors. Love Crunch granola became the inspiration of Nature’s Path’s Love Crunch product line, and through the Bite4Bite program, for every product sold, the equivalent is donated to food banks.  

Another one of the company’s efforts, the annual Gardens for Good grant, helps empower urban gardeners to grow organic food and help nourish those around them. Over the last nine years, the grant has supported 25 gardens across North America with $15,000 grants. Fellow sustainably-minded good-doers and consumers can read about the gardens competing for the current grant and vote for their favorite on Nature’s Path’s website

Company Origin:

Nature’s Path was founded in Vancouver, Canada, in 1985 by Arran and Ratana Stephens as a vegetarian food company. It is a family-run, passion-driven business that hopes to create more than just delicious granola. Over the past 34 years it  has grown to become North America’s largest certified organic breakfast and snack food company. 

Nature’s Path now has three manufacturing facilities, and has been recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, one of Canada’s Greenest Employers, and, in 2016, Food Processing Magazine’s R&D Team of the Year. Ratana has also been named one of Canada’s top ten female entrepreneurs and one of B.C.’s most influential women

Latest “socially responsible” project: 

Nature’s Path’s most recent sustainability goal is to make all its packaging reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025. One of the ways the company is working towards that goal is through a partnership with Loop, a new,  innovative, and sustainable global reusable packaging program. Nature’s Path is Loop’s first organic food company partner. 

As one of Loop’s founding partners, Nature’s Path is joining a coalition of brands from all over the world that are challenging themselves to rethink manufacturing and packaging processes in order to offer goods in reusable containers. Launched in New York in May of 2019, Loop allows consumers to shop for products they want and need, receive the products in durable, reusable packaging, enjoy the products, and then arrange for the empty packages to be picked up, cleaned and refilled by Loop. Loop now sells Nature’s Path Pumpkin Flax Granola and has plans to expand its offerings to other Nature Path’s products. 

Where to buy: Grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, and more, as well as online retailers including Amazon, Thrive Market, and Jet.  Use the online store locator to find Nature’s Path Foods near you.

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