produced at SunOpta’s plants in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 2020


Million Pounds

of food byproducts sold for further processing to reduce landfill waste


Million Dollars

in 2020 revenue

View Our Analysis

The Path to Drawdown: Plant-based Diet

The meat-centric diet in Western societies is responsible for one-fifth of global emissions. Land clearing, fertilizer use, and methane from burping cattle combined take an enormous toll on the environment and the climate.

Shifting to a diet rich in plants is a demand-side solution that reduces emissions and tends to be healthier. If the world adopted a vegan diet, business-as-usual emissions could be reduced by as much as 70%. A vegetarian diet could reduce those emissions by 63%. On top of this, adopting a plant-based diet could help save $1 trillion in annual health-care costs and lost productivity.

Global dietary preferences based on meat, fish and dairy products are deeply ingrained in Western cultures, and they will likely be taken up by lower-income countries as they develop. Bringing about dietary change requires plant-based options that are widely available, visible, and enticing, including high-quality meat substitutes.

Project Drawdown estimates that, if 75% of the global population adopts a plant-rich diet by 2050, it could reduce GHG emissions by up to 91.72 gigatons: 68.32 gigatons from diverted agricultural production, 23.16 gigatons from avoided land conversion, and 0.24 gigatons from sequestration from ecosystem protection.

What We Want to See Improve

Report GHG Emissions

SunOpta’s sustainability report does not include key sustainability metrics. We want them to start tracking and reporting direct and indirect GHG emissions and energy use by type. Particularly important to capture is SunOpta’s scope 3 emissions because they source their raw materials from a large network of suppliers (p. 14), including those in California and Mexico. Only by quantitatively understanding their GHG emissions can investors hold them accountable.

Set Science-Based Emissions Reduction Targets

We commend SunOpta for including sustainability targets (p. 13) like reducing energy use, water use, natural gas and waste. But as far as we can tell, these targets seem somewhat arbitrary. We urge SunOpta to develop sustainability targets that are science-based and in line with staying below 1.5°C of global warming. To hit that goal, a much more explicit focus on reducing GHG emissions would be needed.

Electrify Facilities and Fleet

SunOpta owns and operates a substantial amount of assets (p. F22) in facilities, plants and vehicles. One very effective way to reduce direct emissions would be to transition to renewable sources of energy to power their facilities and to switch to electric vehicles or green hydrogen for their fleet of vehicles. We urge SunOpta’s executives to consider these steps as part of their sustainability efforts.

Related Plant-Based Diet Stocks in the Climate Index

View All Climate Index Stocks →

Allocated Company Description


Oatly Group AB (OTLY)

Oatley makes alternatives to dairy products from oats like milk, frozen desserts, and yogurt. Plant-based food can greatly cut emissions from agriculture


Beyond Meat (BYND)

Beyond Meat makes burgers, sausages, beef, and meatballs from plant-based sources. Plant-based diet can massively cut emissions from agriculture


The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (HAIN)

HAIN sells meat alternative and plant-based food made from soy, rice, oats, almonds and coconut. Plant-based food is a key Drawdown solution


SunOpta Inc. (STKL)

SunOpta makes plant-based and fruit-based food and beverage products. Plant-based diet can cut emissions from agriculture


Burcon NutraScience Corp. (BRCN)

BRCN makes plant proteins and ingredients that go into food and beverage products. Plant-based food can massively cut emissions from agriculture


Laird Superfood, Inc. (LSF)

Laird Superfood makes plant-based and functional foods for optimal well-being and high-performance. Plant-based diet is a key Drawdown solution


MeaTech 3D Ltd. (MITC)

MeaTech makes lab-grown meat that’s 3D printed using stem cells. Their process doesn’t harm animals. Meat-free diet can massively cut agriculture emissions

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