Skip to content

Ethical brand ratings and accreditation since 2001

Ethical pasta, pulses and rice

Vegan Pasta, Fairtrade Rice & Ethical Cupboard Staples

See our Ethical Pasta, Pulses and Rice Ratings Table to compare brands

What is the impact of growing rice, pasta, pulses and other cupboard staples?

For the cupboard staples sector, all three of our criteria of Environment, Animals and People should be considered. There are lots of complex processes involved in your lasagne or chilli con carne, before it even reaches your table. Crops must be grown and harvested, transported, ingredients are processed (especially in the case of pasta), dehydrated, packaged and delivered to shops. If your purchase involves animal-derived ingredients then there are even more unethical and shady steps in the supply chain. (This is why you may want to opt for vegan pasta or similar…)

With this many production stages, it is critical to ensure that ethics are upheld throughout. This is why The Good Shopping Guide has delved into researching companies and brands, to help you shop more intentionally and conscientiously. Some of these changes can be as simple as making easy, small product swaps for more ethical options such as egg pasta for vegan pasta, which is widely available in most supermarkets. Check out our Ethical Pasta, Rice & Pulses Ratings Table to find out more about the best providers of cupboard staples.

Our independent research into pasta, rice and pulses

Genetically modified ingredients, pesticides linked to adverse health effects for both farmhands and consumers, and general worker exploitation: all of these are prevalent issues for the sector.

Happily though, our independent research analysis found that of the brands reviewed, 50% reached or surpassed The Good Shopping Guide’s ethical benchmark. Hooray!

However, this does mean that 50% did not, with 31% having room for improvement and 19% qualifying as unethical. 

Cupboard staples and the environment

Many companies consistently neglect or contribute to environmental issues. Some brands publish environmental reports that serve as greenwashing propaganda. These brands make claims that they are improving their sustainability efforts, but do not state how this will be achieved. Nor do these brands introduce quantifiable targets that allow for accountability.

Further to this, some companies have come to be actively associated with harming the environment. Examples of this include the likes of brands such as Seeds of Change and Ben’s Original (formerly known as Uncle Ben’s). These brands are both owned by Mars Inc., who has been associated with environmental destruction. One of the main criticisms is aimed at Mars Inc.’s use of palm oil. Mars Inc is associated with 20 of the 25 ‘dirty’ palm oil producers. They have repeatedly promised to remove conflict palm oil from its supply chain by 2015, yet still reportedly use palm oil sourced from the illegal clearing of protected rainforests

Additionally, Mars Inc. has been involved in many other ethical scandals, including allegations of trafficking children for forced labour, scoring in the bottom tiers of animal welfare policy assessments for 8 consecutive years , and even self-confessing to using animal testing when not required by law.  With this in mind, our findings advise opting for plant-based, cruelty-free alternatives where possible, such as vegan pasta, rice and grain options.


Ethical pasta, pulses and rice

Fairtrade rice

When looking for ethical options, we recommend firstly ensuring that the brand scores on our table for Fairtrade compliance. With so many crops grown abroad, the supply chain and workers involved can get long. Standards go unchecked, particularly with rice. Checking that it is definitely Fairtrade rice that you’re buying. Faitrade farms are monitored to promote fair working conditions. 

Vegan pasta

Buy vegan foods where possible. Due to the environmental impact and adverse animal welfare conditions, a wide variety of vegan pasta products are now available. We recommend purchasing vegan pasta rather than egg-based pasta, due to animal welfare and sustainability considerations. 

We recommend reading our full Ethical Pasta, Rice & Pulses Ratings Table for more information about the best and worst cupboard staples, with Fairtrade rice and vegan pasta being easy ethical swaps to start with.

See our Ethical Pasta, Pulses and Rice Ratings Table to compare brands

The Good Shopping Guide has conducted extensive research into the biggest and most readily-available brands of pasta, pulses and rice, in order to give consumers the best chance of finding a good, ethical brand in local stores. Dry goods can also often be bought from zero-waste shops, but this is not such an accessible option for everyone. Click on a brand name below to find out more about the ethics of pasta, pulse and rice companies.

Just Ingredients, Suma, Barilla, Infinity Foods, BioFair, Biona, Crazy Jack, VeeTee, De Cecco, Garofalo, Tilda, Laila, TRS, Ben’s Original, Seeds of Change and Napolina.