Panera Bread has announced its commitment to become climate positive – removing more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits – by 2050. The company has updated its Food Beliefs to include climate goals, establishing an ambitious vision for its business.
“Climate change is one of the greatest humanitarian crises of our time, and we must act now for our planet,” says Niren Chauhary, chief executive officer of Panera Bread. “We embrace the responsibility to take immediate and relentless action to create positive change and hope that our industry will follow us. We are sharing our vision for a climate positive future to inspire both our industry and our supply chain partners to take urgent, decisive and clear action.”
In order to reach this climate positive goal, Panera will need to remove approximately 2.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents each year as compared to its 2019 greenhouse gas baseline. This is equal to the amount of carbon sequestered by 2.96 million acres of forest per year, an area 14 times the size of New York City. Since 2017, Panera has already reduced emissions from its operations by 15% per square foot, meeting its 2022 target one year early.
Panera is pursuing the following 2025 short term targets to reduce its footprint:
- Increasing the percentage of Cool Food Meals to 60% of bakery-cafe entrees.
- Transitioning to 100% circular - reusable, recyclable and compostable - packaging.
- Using green, renewable electricity for at least 50% of Panera Bread owned operations.
One year ago, in collaboration with World Resources Institute (WRI), Panera was the first national restaurant company to label Cool Food Meals on its menu – meals that have a low impact on the climate. More than half of Panera entrees are Cool Food Meals including the Chipotle Chicken Avocado Melt, Autumn Squash Soup, Fuji Apple Chicken Salad and Broccoli Cheddar Soup.
“Panera has a long history of making tough, conscious choices about the food system, from serving chicken raised without antibiotics beginning in 2004 to being first to label calories on the menu,” says Sara Burnett, vice president, food beliefs and sustainability. “With the launch of Cool Food Meals in 2020, Panera recognized the impact of your plate is much bigger than a calorie count; it also has an impact on the planet. As a continuation of our journey, we are committing to our ambitious goal and to work with others in our industry to make this vision for a climate positive future a reality.”