F&B brand SaladStop! was founded in 2009 with the goal of bringing fresh salads to the fast food market by ending ‘pre-made culture’ and promoting a more conscious way to eat.
SaladStop! has found great success, with stores in Singapore, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.
With sustainability at the forefront of their operations, SaladStop! Group launched their first Net Zero outlet in 2022. The new outlet is located in the CapitaSpring building, in the heart of Singapore’s Central Business District. This achievement marks a key milestone in SaladStop!’s journey to make all new and existing outlets Net Zero by 2030.
We sat down with Katherine Desbaillets, Chief Brand Officer of SaladStop!, to learn more about the company’s sustainability journey and how Unravel Carbon has been supporting them.
What led you to embark on this sustainability journey?
We started this journey about four years ago by doing a carbon assessment of our salads and all of our ingredients in one of our Singapore locations. We wanted to start by sourcing as locally as possible because we knew that would reduce our transportation-related emissions. We also wanted to lead the way for stores in international markets by setting an example for Scope 3 emissions reduction.
The best way for us to understand the sourcing and supply chain of our meals was to do a carbon assessment. It took us about two years to complete because it was really difficult to get the information we needed from suppliers. They aren’t required to disclose that information, so it was a lengthy process to acquire it. Once we got all of the data, it took us about six more months to get all of the calculations down.
These calculations gave us a good idea of what we were dealing with, and how we could set targets for improvement. Because we knew what our emissions looked like, we were able to offset the exact amount for a specific meal. That was as far as we had gotten on our own.
Why did you decide to work with the Unravel Carbon team?
After COVID, we started hearing the Net Zero terminology more and more. We started to realize that the ingredients were only part of the equation. We needed to move towards achieving Net Zero emissions across the board. That’s when we determined that there were organizations that could help us in that process because we knew we couldn’t do it on our own.
Shortly after this realization, we began searching for consultants online that would help SaladStop! achieve Net Zero. I started contacting a few companies, but most were based in the UK. We chose Unravel Carbon because we wanted to work with a company based in Singapore to make communication easier. We also had a mutual connection with Unravel Carbon, and proof of the quality work that they deliver.
During our first meeting, when the Unravel Carbon team came to our office and showed us how the platform works, we saw how fast and seamless it would be to measure our emissions accurately. The team showed us the whole process of how they would help us achieve our goals. It was put in such a structured way, it seemed as though we could simply follow those steps to achieve our goal of launching our first Net Zero outlet. That really solidified our decision to work with them.
What were the top insights that emerged from Unravel Carbon’s analyses and how did they inform the decisions you made?
It was surprising to see how much energy was being consumed by our Grab & Go dining option which is refrigerated and constantly open to the public. However, we know from other markets that making significant changes to the Grab & Go offering would decrease sales by 30%. As a compromise for now, we have a curtain that we put down during the mornings and the evenings in front of the refrigerator to conserve energy when it’s less busy.
It was also interesting to see how we could reduce our emissions by being conscious of the ingredients that we use and how they are sourced. For example, by working with Unravel Carbon we found that feta cheese is our most carbon-intensive ingredient. It inspired us to explore alternative local cheese suppliers, rather than importing all of our feta from Germany.
Unravel Carbon also worked closely with Pomeroy Studio, the architectural firm behind the new outlet, to get information about the construction process and practices. We were able to rethink the design and functionality of the store such as upcycling plastic bottles into tiles for the feature wall and using upcycled logs for the furniture.
The data from Unravel Carbon helps us to understand how we can better optimize our future stores and operations.
What has been an early outcome of this collaboration with Unravel Carbon?
Through this collaboration with Unravel Carbon, we were able to launch Southeast Asia’s first Net Zero F&B store. For any of our emissions, operational or embodied, we have worked to reduce them as much as we possibly could. Any leftover emissions were negated through the use of high-quality offsets representing real, permanent emissions reductions.
The store is estimated to have operational emissions of 117 tonnes of CO2-e per year (negated through the use of high-quality offsets) compared to 126 tonnes of CO2-e per year in an older SaladStop! store and 558 tonnes CO2-e per year for a similar-sized quick-service restaurant.
We plan to expand this model to all of our new stores and existing ones through renovation company-wide by 2030. Opening this Net Zero store has shown us what’s possible and what we’re capable of in terms of reducing our emissions.
What are SaladStop’s long-term sustainability ambitions?
We’re looking at opening exclusively Net Zero stores in Singapore, and in all of our international markets. Any outlet that’s going to open next year will be Net Zero, including our outlets that go through renovations. These new renovations will help us achieve our goal of reaching Net Zero as a company by 2030.
We also hope to get B Corp certification as one of our sustainable goals. This certification would essentially signal that SaladStop! is meeting high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.
Having done this in Singapore, we think it will be easier for us to move forward with similar initiatives in our international markets and contribute to a low-carbon future.
Do you foresee other F&B brands following the same path?
For other companies to embark on a similar Net Zero journey, we think there needs to be a push from customers for more sustainable offerings. It’s a lot of effort, so there needs to be a desire to pay more for sustainable products from consumers. Also, if the government takes a big leap in this area, we might see more businesses coming on board.
For F&B groups in particular, we might see more companies moving towards Net Zero for the marketing benefits of it. In many cases, though, they’re just offsetting for the marketing stance, rather than changing structures, operations, and sourcing to make significant changes to their carbon emissions output.