General Mills released its 2020 Global Responsibility Report, highlighting progress made on the company’s long-term global commitments. The annual update, which marks 50 years of reporting for the company, outlines significant progress against and investments in four priority areas: Food, Planet, People and Community.
“We are in the food business,” said Jeff Harmening, chairman and CEO, General Mills. “And taking care of the land that sustains us all requires that we act as a force for good for our planet. That is why, for more than 50 years, we've reported our global responsibility results and progress. At a time with so many unknowns, when food is bringing a sense of comfort and normalcy, it's never been more important to commit ourselves to growing our food with responsibility and care.”
In 2019, General Mills and its Foundation committed to advance regenerative farming on one million acres of farmland, enabled 5.5 billion meals around the world through philanthropic partners and food donations, and invested in efforts that have collectively helped improve the lives of more than 22,000 smallholder farmers and their families.
“Our global presence allows General Mills to create real impact, at every level,” said Mary Jane Melendez, chief sustainability and social impact officer, General Mills. “We are committed to using our scale where it matters most. For us, that means advancing regenerative agriculture, supporting farmers across our value chain and accelerating our ongoing efforts to end hunger and reduce food waste.”
FOOD: BUILDING ON NUTRITION
General Mills continually shapes its portfolio of products to contribute to the well-being of consumers and meet their varied needs. Progress in 2019 includes:
• 100% of General Mills facilities worldwide were audited and/or certified for food safety by independent third parties.
• General Mills steadily expanded consumer offerings as the second-largest branded natural and organic food producer in the US, surpassing $1 billion in sales.
• The company launched an updated health reporting system across its global portfolio leveraging established, transparent nutrition criteria grounded in regulations and dietary guidance. Forty-five% of General Mills’ global volume met the company’s criteria as “Nutrition-Forward Foods,” helping support consumers in building healthy eating patterns.
PLANET: ADVANCING PLANETARY HEALTH THROUGH REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE
General Mills is committed to improving the health of the planet, with a goal to reduce greenhouse emissions across its full value chain by 28% by 2025. In 2019, the company announced plans to advance regenerative farming practices on one million acres of farmland by 2030. An estimated 80% of greenhouse gases in the food system come from agriculture, but regenerative techniques help counter their impact by pulling carbon from the air and storing it in soil. These methods also serve to enhance natural resources and farming communities. Other impactful progress in 2019 includes:
• Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 14% across the company’s full value chain (compared to the 2010 baseline).
• Marking a milestone of sustainably sourcing more than 90% of the company’s 10 most priority ingredients, with a goal of reaching 100% by the end of 2020.
Since 2016, General Mills and its Foundation also have:
• Invested more than $6 million to support pollinators, including a public-private partnership with Xerces, which has helped restore habitats and protect pollinators on more than 200,000 acres.
• Funded initiatives worth more than $5.5 million to advance soil health on US agricultural lands through research, perennial crop investments, and supplier and grower partnerships.
PEOPLE: ENCOURAGING AN INCLUSIVE AND ENGAGED WORKPLACE
• General Mills actively pursues a culture that acknowledges, respects and values all dimensions of diversity, including gender, race, sexual orientation, ability, backgrounds and beliefs. As of December 2019:
• 50% of professional positions and 35% of General Mills officer positions were held by women globally.
• Nearly half of the General Mills Board of Directors are women and one-third are people of color.
COMMUNITY: SUPPORTING THE WELL-BEING OF PEOPLE AND PLANET WORLDWIDE
General Mills and its Foundation make a meaningful impact in global communities through employee volunteerism, investment in food security and recovery, and community giving efforts, including disaster relief.
• This past year, 83% of our employees volunteered in their communities.
• General Mills and its Foundation enabled 5.5 billion meals worldwide in 2019 through its philanthropic partners and food donations. Globally, more than 674,000 children at risk of hunger benefitted from 140 million meals in 2019 through General Mills’ support.
• Investments to scale the MealConnect platform have helped recover more than 1.6 billion pounds of surplus food from food-related organizations, including grocers, restaurants and distributors.
• Additionally, the company and its Foundation continually support farming communities by investing in NGO-led programs and initiatives that improve the well-being and resiliency of farmers. These efforts have improved the livelihoods of more than 22,000 smallholder farmers and their families.
For five decades, General Mills has publicly reported its progress in areas of social and environmental importance, demonstrating a longstanding commitment to these areas. The company has continued that commitment in the face of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, announcing enhanced benefits and support for employees and recently, additional funding and operational shifts to fight food insecurity.