Jude‘s Ice Cream is a family run business that has enjoyed enormous success over the last 19 years, and have just transitioned to becoming the UK’s first (and only!) carbon-negative ice cream brand – putting people and planet above profit. We caught up with Managing Director Chow Mezger and talked about Jude’s sustainable future, new plant-based products and how the brand is leading a green ice cream revolution:

Hey Chow! How did you get into ice cream?

For me, it all started when my dad founded Jude’s ice cream in 2002. He’s always been a lover of great ice cream and had his heart set on crafting something with his own hands and getting a real, quality product into the hands of real people. He named Jude’s after my mum and gradually began building the business from the roots up – with the best flavour and quality at the heart of everything.

At the time I was playing rugby professionally but a combination of realising I wouldn’t be the next Jonny Wilkinson, and seeing my parents start a really exciting business led me to Jude’s ice cream.

After learning the trade from my dad in the early days, I now lead flavour development at Jude’s and in the last 19 years we’ve pioneered some flavours we’re incredibly proud of and that have won us 90 Great Taste Awards – from bringing the first Salted Caramel ice cream to the UK 12 years ago, to creating trend leading flavours like Black Coconut, to the more unusual like Salt & Vinegar. We work closely as a team on each of the flavour innovations and have some immensely talented ice cream connoisseurs at Jude’s who ensure everything we create is continually pushing the boundaries on all our delicious tasting ice cream.

Tell us about your current mission at Jude’s?

Our mission is to create radical change in the ice cream industry in the UK, by shining a spotlight on the green issues within the category and committing to overhauling every element of the business to best protect the planet for future generations. For years we thought we were doing ‘enough’ but the more we assessed the processes in the industry, we quickly realised that we were in fact not doing enough – not even close. 

We hope to inspire other ice cream companies to follow suit (or speed up their current sustainability plans) and challenge themselves to do more. As a midsized brand, we believe we’re big enough to influence change and will be open and honest about the learnings, successes and failures that we will no doubt experience on the path to having a positive impact, so that others can ultimately glean learnings from these to take forward.

Over the last 4 years we have been on a really exciting journey, leading the market in developing and launching plant based products, and becoming more and more sustainable as a business – we are now a B Corp (there are only 430 B Corps in the UK out of over 4m companies) and we are the first (and only) ice cream and desserts brand to be Carbon Negative (scopes 1-3 upstream).

In my opinion, going Carbon Negative is basically paying the cost now, or future generations will pay it.

The transition to becoming carbon negative has been a complex one that has involved a systematic review of every single element of our business – from the ingredients we use, to how our team travels to the ice cream factory. We have been working with Professor Mike Berners-Lee, a leading expert in carbon footprinting, and author of ‘There’s No Planet B’ to help us through this multifaceted process.

It reflects our increasing awareness of the climate emergency and our conviction that businesses can and should be a force for good. We can make changes today that will make a difference. We want to be an advocate and catalyst for positive change.

We’re on a mission to pioneer the ice cream of the future, both in terms of delicious flavours and environmental credentials.

So you think ice cream is in need of a makeover?

I think the way we live is in need of a makeover.  We need to protect the planet now for future generations. As a family business we are in a unique position to do something more than just taking the important small steps in our personal lives. Everything we do at Jude’s seeks to bring life and we believe the best way we can do this right now is by stepping up and doing our bit to protect the environment.

Jude’s is also uniquely positioned as a family business, we can be nimble and responsive in a way that the bigger players might find more challenging.  Our hope is that they will notice what we’re doing and respond more quickly than they might otherwise have done.

What does the future of ice cream look like to you?

As we all seek to do our bit to help the planet, making simple swaps to more plant-based foods can make a real difference.  For us, that means committing to make 50% of our retail range plant-based by 2025 (if not sooner!).

We’re also seeing the proportion of plant-based ice cream we sell to chefs increase which is often an indication of future retail habits as the flavours and foods we try in restaurants gradually make their way into shopping baskets.

It’s all very well talking about environmental issues, but what have you really done in terms of commitment?

We are Britain’s first and only Carbon Negative ice cream company which means we remove more carbon from the atmosphere than we emit. We’re achieving this through a combination of carbon reduction, carbon removal and rewilding.

We’re not stopping there though, and have committed to reduce our carbon intensity by 43% by 2030. This is a huge challenge and will change literally every aspect of our business.

We worked closely with carbon footprinting experts at Small World Consulting (with Professor Mike Berners-Lee) to calculate our carbon footprint including Scope 1, 2 and 3 (upstream emissions).

Scope 1 emissions looks at the direct emissions from our operations, Scope 2 is the indirect emissions from the production of the energy we use and Scope 3 (upstream) are the indirect emissions from our supply chain associated with the production and distribution of our products – thing like emissions from the farms producing our ingredients, our team’s commutes, refrigeration and running every aspect of our business.  Scope 3 is complicated!  And it required a lot of time to calculate, but we believe it’s worth it to fully understand the impact of what we do, and be best positioned to improve it.

We have also made the commitment to increase our plant-based range, which has a lower carbon footprint, while still delivering on great taste. We have developed one of the largest plant-based ice cream ranges in the UK and by 2025 we aim for 50% of our products to be plant-based – if not sooner.

Impressive. Any other exciting news from Jude’s?

We relish playing with flavours and continuously innovating through our product pipeline and this Autumn is no different – we’ve got a big line up of new flavours and variants that we hope people will love. One of my favourites has to be Jude’s most indulgent ice cream yet; Caramel Cookie Dough Brownie – a trio of treats not to be underestimated.

We’ve also been expanding our lower-calorie and plant-based options which now includes Lower Calorie Plant-Based Chocolate Brownie, Lower Calorie Plant-Based Salted Caramel and Lower Calorie Cookies & Cream.

A recent new first from Jude’s is also the launch of our first Plant-Based Shake which is Belgian Chocolate flavour and comes in a 100% recyclable can.