General Mills Reports Progress on Global Responsibility Commitments

100 percent of General Mills’ 10 priority ingredients will be sustainably sourced by 2020
Apr 16, 2014 10:40 AM ET

MINNEAPOLIS,  April 16, 2014 /3BL Media/ – General Mills released its annual Global Responsibility Report today, outlining its approach to creating economic, environmental and social value in the countries where it operates.  The company reported progress in the areas most material to its business – health, environment, sourcing, workplace and community engagement. The full report can be accessed on the General Mills website.

For 2013, which marks the 44th year General Mills has shared an annual responsibility report with stakeholders and the community, the company again aligned the report with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework.  This is the third year General Mills has used GRI, the globally recognized standard for environmental, social and governance reporting.

“In pursuit of our goal to stand among the world’s most socially responsible food companies and to sustain our business for the long term, we continue to improve our practices, our products and our supply chains as we work to fulfill our mission of Nourishing Lives,” said Ken Powell, chairman and CEO of General Mills. “We are encouraged by the progress we’re making and remain committed to our pursuit of continuous improvement.”

General Mills’ 2020 sourcing commitment, health profile improvements and water stewardship efforts are among the key highlights of this year’s report.

The company’s sustainability mission is to conserve and protect the natural resources and communities upon which the business depends. In fiscal 2013, General Mills committed to sustainably sourcing 100 percent of its 10 priority ingredients by 2020 – representing more than 50 percent of the company’s annual raw material purchases. The commitment, part of General Mills’ long-term sustainable sourcing strategy, covers a broad range of raw materials including oats, wheat, corn, dairy, fiber packaging, cocoa, vanilla, palm oil, sugar cane and sugar beets.

In addition, as a food company, General Mills recognizes the nutrition-related challenges faced by global consumers, ranging from hunger and malnutrition to obesity. The company reported this year on how it is working to be part of the solution – through products, consumer education and philanthropic efforts.

Also in fiscal 2013, General Mills strengthened its commitment to global water stewardship.  This year’s Global Responsibility Report outlines progress towards a global water risk assessment of all General Mills plants and growing regions. Part of this assessment includes the identification of eight at risk watersheds and collaboration with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) on a global water stewardship strategy.

“Water is the silent currency that drives our economy – from energy production, to urban water supplies, to food production,” said Adam Freed, Director, Global Securing Water Program, The Nature Conservancy. “Our management of this finite resource is critical to sustaining future growth and a healthy planet. General Mills’ strong leadership and commitment to enhancing the sustainability of its supply chains is a model for corporate water stewardship and an essential ingredient to securing a sustainable future for our farmers, communities, economy, and the ecosystems on which we all depend.”

In addition, General Mills advanced its mission of Nourishing Lives this past year through:

  • Health improvements: General Mills has improved the health profile of 73 percent of its U.S. Retail sales volume since 2005. In fiscal 2013 alone, the company improved nearly 20 percent of its U.S. Retail sales volume. Nutritional improvements touched all General Mills U.S. Retail platforms, including Baking, Cereal, Dairy, Meals and Snacks.
  • Sustainable sourcing: General Mills continues to make progress on sustainable sourcing strategies impacting both the developed and the developing world. The company is collaborating with industry groups, suppliers and North American growers to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture through its leadership in Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture. In addition, in 2013, General Mills began working with vanilla supplier Virginia Dare, the international humanitarian organization CARE and Madagascar-based NGO Fanamby on a pilot to improve smallholder farmer incomes as well as the quality, quantity and traceability of vanilla grown in Madagascar.  The goal is to help vanilla farmers improve their livelihoods, while ensuring a sustainable and quality supply of vanilla for the future. Madagascar is the world’s leading producer of vanilla and the primary source of the high-quality vanilla used in Häagen-Dazs ice cream.
  • Environmental stewardship: General Mills continues to work toward its fiscal 2015 goal of achieving significant, measurable reductions in energy usage, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water usage and other sustainability metrics. In fiscal 2013, the company achieved its 2015 GHG emissions goal early and made progress towards all other environmental goals, with the exception of water usage rates, which were impacted by recent acquisitions.
  • Workplace excellence: General Mills received numerous awards in 2013. In the U.S., Working Mother magazine included the company on its list of best companies for the 10th year in a row, and the company was named to Fortune magazine’s annual list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” for the 11th time. Other workplace honors were received in Australia, France, Germany, Greece, Mexico, Spain, Sweden and the U.K.
  • Remarkable philanthropy: In fiscal 2013, General Mills donated more than $153 million (nearly $3 million a week) to key initiatives that support communities around the globe. General Mills and its Foundation have given more than$1 billion to charitable causes worldwide since 1954.

“General Mills is prioritizing efforts where the company can have the greatest impact,” said Jerry Lynch, vice president and chief sustainability officer, General Mills. “We will continue to work with industry partners and non-governmental agencies across our supply chain to identify solutions that create long-term value for our business and society.”

General Mills will be discussing its Global Responsibility Report with a focus on the company’s sustainable sourcing efforts during a Twitterchat on April 23 from 3-4pm EST. Follow #GenMillsSusty to participate. General Mills representatives include: Jerry Lynch, General Mills vice president and chief sustainability officer (@gmills_Jerry) and Steve Peterson, General Mills sourcing director (@gmills_Steve), with moderation provided by CSRwire editorial director Aman Singh (@AmanSinghCSR) and Triple Pundit founder and publisher Nick Aster (@NickAster).

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About General Mills

General Mills is one of the world’s leading food companies, operating in more than 100 countries around the world. Its brands include Cheerios, Fiber One, Häagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Yoplait, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Wanchai Ferry, Yoki and more. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., USA, General Mills had fiscal 2013 worldwide sales of US $17.8 billion.