We've worked closely with scientists, industry experts and the farming communities themselves to make sure we're as knowledgeable as possible.
But talking about sustainability can feel like walking through a mine field.
It’s a hugely complex area that means different things to different people. There are no straightforward answers and people are rightly suspicious of greenwashing.
We can’t promise we’ll get everything right, but we can promise we'll be thorough in our research and transparent about our claims.
If you have any questions, or you think we’ve got something wrong, we'd love to hear from you at email@example.com
Substantiating our claims
Rice has the second highest emissions of any food (after beef)
This was the stat that really surprised us. We first saw it in this Economist article, which uses emissions data for beef, rice and other foods from this peer reviewed academic paper published in Nature in September 2021.
Important point 1: this statistic includes emissions associated not just with agriculture but also the wider footprint of foods - land use change, processing, fertilisers, transportation etc.
Important point 2: this statistic refers to total global emissions. We think that is the simplest and best measure of a food's contribution to emissions. But it's worth noting that other leading academic research ranks foods based on their CO2 intensity
(like CO2 per 100g of protein or CO2 per 1000 calories - on these measures rice ranks #10 and #12 respectively). Check out the awesome Our World In Data interactive tool to see more.
Our rice is sustainably farmed
Our farmers follow the Sustainable Rice Platform (“SRP”) Standard for Sustainable Rice Cultivation. The SRP was co-founded by the United Nations Environment Programme and the International Rice Research Institute to promote sustainable rice farming techniques.
The “standard” is like a playbook of 41 different practices for farmers to follow. Points are available for each element of the standard, and depending on how many points the farmers score across the standard, they achieve a different grade. The highest grade is “level 3” which means the farmers have achieved 90% of the points available under the standard. The SRP classifies level 3 rice as “sustainably farmed” and we’re excited to say that 100% of our rice comes from certified level 3 farms.
If you want to find out more about the farming practices themselves see here.
Our rice cuts CO2-eq emissions by 1.23kg (or 49%) compared to conventional rice farms
The CO2-equivalent emissions of our rice are calculated by AtSource using the IPCC 2019 guidelines (volume 4, chapter 5) for emissions from rice cultivation. The calculation uses primary data from our farms, recorded by our farmers and independently verified by Control Union.
AtSource calculates emissions for conventional rice farming using national (Indian) production statistics from the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the UN and emissions data from the World Food LCA Database Documentation 2019.
Our farms save >3000 litres of water per kg of rice by following the sustainable farming method
Our farmers record their water usage throughout the growing season and their records are independently verified. This claim is calculated by comparing their water usage in 2022 (the most recent season) to 2019 - the first year they joined the sustainability project and started recording data.
We have also sense-checked the benchmark data by comparing it to regional averages reported in academic papers like this.
Our sustainably farmed rice is helping to fight poverty
Our rice is grown by a group of 66 farmers in Haryana state, India – a state where 11% of the 25m population are living in poverty (World Bank report).
We pay our farmers a premium price for achieving the highest grade under the sustainable farming standard. We hope this will help incentivise farmers to commit to sustainable farming for the long-term. In 2022 our premium was INR1000 per tonne over the market price. We’re currently working on a way to benchmark this premium for the 2023 harvest.
In addition, one of the main attractions of sustainable rice farming methods for farmers is that it is typically higher yielding. This is true for our farmers and in 2022 their yield was 10% higher than the benchmark year in 2019 (the year before they started following sustainable farming practices). A higher yield means more rice to sell to the market, which should mean a better livelihood.