The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Sustainability Series: Barbara's Bakery

Sustainability Series: Barbara's Bakery


September 25, 2011

Founded as Northern California's first natural bakery in 1971, Barbara's Bakery has remained at the heart of the natural foods movement for four decades. Located in Petaluma, California, Barbara's full line of baked products includes high fiber cereals like Puffins, and a range of multigrain snack, fruit and yogurt bars. We talked to Kent Spalding, Vice President of Marketing for Barbara's Bakery, about how sustainable business practices and good tasting food go hand in hand.

How does your business define sustainability?

At Barbara's, we define sustainability as thoughtfully utilizing resources and materials in a way that reduces our carbon footprint in every aspect of our business.   

How are you incorporating sustainable practices into your business?

One of the biggest commitments to sustainable practices we have made is with our Green Choice packaging. All of our cartons are made with 100% recycled, 100% carbon neutral, and 100% clean energy paperboard whose life cycle is carefully monitored for its environmental impact.   

What are your short term and long term goals?

In the short term, we hope to expand our Barbara's for a Brighter Future program to help educate more students across the country on the importance of sustainable practices. In the long term we'd like to continue to improve efficiencies in production to make sure we are reducing line times and limiting waste and pollution.

Where do you think you'll have the biggest impact?

We hope to have the biggest impact with consumers. We'd like to show them that you can be an earth-friendly, all-natural company and still produce a great-tasting, high quality product. You don't have to sacrifice taste for sustainable practices and you don't have to sacrifice sustainable practices for taste.  

How do you measure your progress?

We recently engaged all three of our North American facilities in a sustainability audit to find out what we were doing well and what areas needed improvement. We used the results of the audit to make changes such as purchasing office supplies made from recycled materials, providing each employee with a recycling bin at their desk, and discouraging excess printing. 

How do retailers factor into your efforts?

A continued partnership is important with retailers to ensure best practices are implemented at all ends of the supply chain. For us that means making sure we are delivering the right amount of product to each store so nothing goes to waste, using less printed signage in stores, and providing digital coupons.  

Why are sustainable business practices important to the food industry?

It is especially important for the food industry to invest in our future by better utilizing and maintaining precious resources. We need to set the precedent as an industry because we want to have clean, safe, healthy food for ourselves, and our families, to eat for years to come.  

Why are sustainable business practices important to the consumer?

Consumers want to make sure businesses are adhering to practices that are neither wasteful nor harmful. They are very concerned about the future of our resources and what they are putting into their bodies so we can all live happy, healthy lives. 

In upcoming issues, we will feature interviews with food companies that are making strides in their sustainability efforts. If you are interested in telling us more about what your company is doing to get involved please contact Allison Bloom