General Mills released its 2018 Global Responsibility Report, outlining the company’s approach to creating environmental, social and economic value in the countries where it operates. The progress made by General Mills in 2017 demonstrates the company’s long-term commitment to protect and restore the resources upon which its business and communities depend, with an increased focus on improving the resiliency of its supply chain.
Protecting and restoring natural resources
Consumers want assurance that food has been grown in a responsible and sustainable manner – one that respects people, animals and the planet. This is important for business as well because food companies rely on the planet’s resources for the ingredients in their products. General Mills’ key environmental progress in 2017 was made by focusing particularly on:
• Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) – In 2017, our greenhouse gas emissions footprint decreased 11% compared to 2010, across our value chain in the areas of agriculture, packaging, producing, shipping, converting, selling and consuming.
• Improving Soil Health Practices – Healthy soil contributes to a more stable climate. Through 2017, General Mills has invested more than $3.25 million in soil health initiatives on U.S. agricultural lands. The company advances soil health practices and on-farm research through supplier and grower partnerships including Field to Market, the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative, The Nature Conservancy, The Land Institute and the National Wheat Foundation.
• Advancing Water Stewardship – General Mills set a goal to develop water stewardship plans for the company’s eight most at-risk watersheds in its global value chain by 2025. In 2017, absolute water usage related to the company’s manufacturing processes were 17% less than in fiscal 2016, due in large part to reductions in the number of facilities and overall production.
“Our business depends on nature and farming communities to thrive,” says Jerry Lynch, Chief Sustainability Officer for General Mills. “We know that we can use our size and scale purposefully to drive more widespread, positive change.”
Sourcing sustainable ingredients
In 2013, General Mills made a commitment to sustainably source 100% of the company’s ten priority ingredients by 2020. These priority ingredients represent 40% of the company’s annual raw material purchases and include cocoa, vanilla, oats, U.S. wheat, U.S. sugar beets, U.S. corn (dry milled), U.S. dairy (raw fluid milk), fiber packaging, sugar cane and palm oil. Five years into the commitment, the company is at 76% of its goal.
Increasing organic acreage
In 2015, General Mills committed to more than double the organic acreage from which the company sources ingredients to 250,000 acres by 2019. In 2017, the company achieved the 200,000-acre milestone. The company is among the top five organic ingredient purchasers in the North American packaged foods sector. These efforts meet consumer demand and deliver benefit to the environment in soil health, biodiversity and carbon sequestration.