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.
“We are investing in the preservation of natural resources that our business and the global population depend upon,” said Jeff Harmening, chairman and CEO of General Mills. “Consumers increasingly demand food that reflects their values, from a company they trust. We believe that using our scale for good is good for them, good for our business and good for the planet we share.”
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,” said 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.
Establishing diverse pollinator habitat
Since 2011, General Mills and the company’s brands have invested more than $6 million to support pollinator and pollinator research efforts alongside partners including the Xerces Society, the University of Minnesota Bee Lab and the Observatoire Francais d’Apidologie (OFA) in France. The investments will help conservationists, researchers and our suppliers to improve the health, quantity and effectiveness of pollinators in addition to planting of more than 100,000 acres of habitat through 2021.
As part of the recent Gunsmoke Farms agreement to convert 34,000 acres of conventional farmland to organic by 2020, upwards of 3,000 acres of pollinator habitat will be planted throughout the farm in cooperation with the Xerces Society.
The General Mills Foundation has three global focus areas that closely tie to the company’s core business and knowledge of the food system -- Increasing Food Security, Advancing Sustainable Agriculture and Strengthening Hometown Communities. In 2017, the company and its Foundation donated more than $139 million to charitable causes and enabled 30 million meals for food-insecure children and families through General Mills food donations globally.
Other impactful 2017 philanthropic contributions include:
- 32 countries strengthened through food bank support – General Mills food donations, Foundation grants and employee expertise were used to support and strengthen food banks in more than 32 countries.
- 19,328 food retailers participated in food rescue efforts – General Mills empowered 19,328 retailers to participate in food rescue efforts through MealConnect in the U.S. and FareShare in the U.K. since inception.
- $53 million to schools – Through the Box Tops for Education program, General Mills donated over $53 million in 2017 to K-8 schools in the U.S. The program to date has given more than $840 million to over 76,000 participating schools.
This marks the 48th year General Mills has publicly reported back to stakeholders and the community. Learn more about General Mills’ economic, environmental and social commitments and progress by visiting GeneralMills.com/Responsibility, to view the full Global Responsibility Report, interactive report and video.