The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

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

Sustainability Series: Pamela’s Products, Inc.

Sustainability Series: Pamela’s Products, Inc.


September 24, 2013

Founded in 1988 by Pamela Giusto-Sorrells, Pamela’s is dedicated to baking gluten-free foods that taste delicious. As a third general natural food industry pioneer (her grandparents established the Golden Crescent in San Francisco in 1941), Giusto-Sorrells was inspired by the lack of good tasting products on the market that were truly gluten-free and started out her gluten-free line by developing Peanut Butter, and Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Raisin Walnut and Ginger Cookies. Today, Pamela’s offers more than three-dozen products ranging from biscotti and cookies to baking mixes. We talked to Jen Ramstad, Director of Marketing for Pamela’s Products, Inc. about the importance of taking part in the sustainability process – no matter what business you’re in.

How does your business define sustainability?

Pamela’s considers their sustainability efforts as the steps made to protect our natural resources – to protect the environment and our planet.

How are you incorporating sustainable practices into your business?

We have consolidated our three manufacturing plants into one building, installed energy-efficient ovens and lighting, and moved to PET (polyethylene terephthalate) recyclable type 1 plastic trays – a plastic that can be recycled into carpet yarn, fiberfill, tote bags as well as drink containers, luggage and even clothing. Our plant has both Gluten-Free and Organic certification. We use recycled cardboard and print with soy-based inks. We utilize an in-house recycling program for waste both in the corporate office and on the production line. Pamela’s very much values sourcing products from local farmers so we not only support our local community, but reduce the amount of travel time for the delivery trucks. Many employees work from home-based offices to reduce the carbon footprint that would be made by commuting to the office. And of course, we are constantly looking at new opportunities for us to care for and preserve our planet. Employees are not only encouraged to share their ideas so we can continue to expand our commitment to sustainability, but encouraged to employ sustainability practices at home – recycling, composting where possible, managing water, electrical and gas usage and more. On Earth Day this April, Pamela’s encouraged our fans to go green with fun tips such as craft ideas using recycled materials, how to make homemade green cleaning supplies and Earth Day event volunteer opportunities. We even offered a contest encouraging fans to tell us what efforts they made to support Earth Day to win a reusable and eco-friendly canvas bag filled with Pamela’s products! It was a great success and we were pleased with the positive response from our fans!

What are your short term and long term goals?

Pamela’s has had significant growth over the past two years and as our business grows, we realize this also increases our impact on the environment. We are fortunate to have an executive board of veterans in the natural foods industry that view sustainability as a business priority. Presently, we are looking at immediate ways to reduce waste (rather than just recycle) and more eco-friendly business operations both in the office and at production. Long-term, we realize that the increasing growth in our product sales and product lines requires us to build in best practices in sustainability right from the start as we expand our production capabilities, vendors, suppliers and more.

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

We are a food manufacturer – making strides with a more sustainable production process and our packaging materials are all probably our most impactful areas. There is virtually no produced product waste. Over runs are donated to the food bank and cookie waste is sold to pig farmers.

How do you measure your progress?

At this time, ingredients are of the utmost importance to Pamela’s. We continue to work with our suppliers and growers so that they have the most current information in this rapidly changing environment. For example, we source Cage-free and Organic eggs and work closely with our preferred sources in our local Mendocino county to ensure they meet our current requirements. On the packaging side, we work with manufacturers who have been able to accommodate us with our recycled packaging needs. Our stance is to continue to move forward and improve every opportunity from farm to production to consumer.

How do retailers factor into your efforts?

As a manufacturer of natural foods, we realize the importance many of our retailers place on sustainability. Many of them come to us with requests of support for their store’s sustainability efforts. We very much appreciate the collaboration with like-minded businesses and knowing that we are working for the greater good of our planet.

Why are sustainable business practices important to the food industry? 

We believe they should be important to any industry! In terms of the food industry, there are numerous touch points in the supply chain from field to table. We all need to take responsibility for our part in the process and do our best to be sustainable in our business practices. If we do not, our combined efforts could have a hugely negative impact.

Why are sustainable business practices important to the consumer?

We all want to protect the planet we live in for ourselves, our children, and future descendants. Consumers know that the carbon footprint generated by business operations can have a significantly detrimental impact on the earth. It is important to know that the companies supported with consumer dollars are doing the right thing.