The food industry relies on nature’s bounty for the ingredients in our products. Our company’s size, scale and global scope allow us to have a material impact on societal issues like climate change, global food security, global health and food safety – and we embrace the opportunity to do our part, as we’ve demonstrated through our actions in recent years.
Last year was a milestone year for General Mills, as we celebrated our 150th year of serving the world by making food people love. We intend to celebrate again in another 150 years and the only way we’ll realize that goal is by conserving and protecting the natural resources upon which our business depends.
General Mills’ greatest environmental impact occurs outside of our operations, primarily in agriculture, which includes more than half of our value chain’s GHG emissions and 99 percent of our total water use. Our sustainability efforts are therefore focused on climate, water, ecosystems and sustainable sourcing.
Some 2016 highlights on our efforts include:
Soil Health Roadmap. Healthy soil helps farmers be more productive and resilient during weather extremes, it helps protect water quality and biodiversity, and it sequesters carbon. With support from General Mills, The Nature Conservancy developed “A Roadmap to U.S. Soil Health” that outlines a coordinated approach for science, economics and policy to help build soil health across U.S. agricultural lands. At 50 percent adoption, we estimate that improved soil health would provide $1.2 billion in annual net economic gains for farmers, and $7.4 billion in water and climate benefits.
Water Stewardship Commitment. General Mills committed to champion the development of water stewardship plans by 2025 for the most material and at-risk watersheds in our global value chain. As part of our commitment, we will support local watershed collaboration efforts, foster development of foundational tools, and advocate science-based policy in watersheds based in California, Idaho, Florida, New Mexico, India and China.
Pollinator Habitat Development. General Mills, the Xerces Society, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a program to restore and protect pollinator habitat across hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland in North America. The five-year, $4 million financial commitment will support farmers across the U.S. by providing technical assistance to plant and protect pollinator habitat, such as native wildflower field edges and flowering hedgerows.
Sustainable Sourcing. In 2013, General Mills made a commitment to sustainably source our 10 priority ingredients by 2020. The ingredients represent 40 percent of our annual raw material purchases. With four years remaining on our commitment, we continue to make progress across all ingredients, with the most progress to date in palm oil (100 percent), fiber packaging (99 percent), and sugar cane (59 percent).
Our progress is driven by General Mills’ committed employees, who together, using innovative technologies and practices, are making a lasting impact on the communities where they live and do business around the globe.