When a Fortune 500 company announces that its concerns about climate change are leading to some new demands on its suppliers, it's interesting. When that company is the third-largest food processor in the U.S.--and is headquartered in the Upper Midwest (Golden Valley, Minnesota) the announcement is worth posting.--Bryce
GENERAL MILLS POSTS CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY
Jul 28, 2014 • By John Church
How the weather forecast impacts food supply
Weather is often something people think about as they’re walking out the door in the morning or as they make weekend plans. But, for a food company like General Mills, it’s a much longer-term consideration.
Weather conditions such as drought, floods and excessive heat, can decrease yields on crops like corn, oats and wheat.
Changing weather patterns can also impact our ability to deliver quality products to our consumers and value to our shareholders.
As weather volatility increases, General Mills recognizes the need to mitigate the climate change risks presented to humanity, our environment and our livelihoods. The urgency is clear: science-based evidence points to changes in climate that could permanently alter the atmosphere if action isn’t taken in the near term.
An innovative, holistic approach is essential.
For years, General Mills has been working to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in our operations and in agriculture. We’ve had specific GHG targets in place for our direct operations since 2005.
However, given that nearly two-thirds of General Mills’ GHG emissions and 99 percent of water use throughout our value chain occur upstream of our direct operations, primarily in agriculture, we’ve also been focused on advancing sustainable agriculture.
To this end, we’ve made a commitment to sustainably source 100 percent of our 10 priority ingredients by 2020.
These ingredients represent 50 percent of our total raw material purchases. Today, we further our commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainable agriculture by announcing a corporate climate policy that establishes a framework for our efforts to track and reduce GHG emissions across our broader value chain. This includes requiring key ingredient suppliers to demonstrate environmental, social and economic improvements in their supply chains.
In addition, our policy addresses further reductions in resource usage within our own operations; our leadership role in a multi-stakeholder water stewardship strategy; and our continued contributions to food waste reduction.
Climate change is not an issue one company can tackle alone. It takes the collaboration and dedication of many.
General Mills has sought partners with a shared commitment to mitigating climate change. We recently joined BICEP, Ceres’ Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy, in an effort to advocate more closely with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation.
Mindy Lubber, president, Ceres, welcomed us to the group saying: “General Mills is showing increasing leadership on climate change and we are proud to welcome the company as our newest member of BICEP. With General Mills’ global commitment to sustainable sourcing and the work it is doing to reduce GHG emissions in its direct operations and in agriculture, the company brings a lot to the table. We are certain General Mills will be an effective advocate for strong climate and energy policies.”
We also have great, long-standing partners including the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture.
And, our collaborative work includes other important multi-stakeholder groups such as the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil and Bonsucro.
The imperative is clear: business, together with governments, NGOs and individuals, need to act together to reduce the human impact on climate change. Government policies that provide proportionate and clear guidance on mitigation and adaptation are essential for large scale progress.
Business investment in innovations that help reduce natural resource use and create energy alternatives is essential to reach scalable practices and technologies. And, helping individual consumers make more sustainable choices is essential to reducing the collective human impact on the environment.
We all have a part to play.
We encourage you – individuals and organizations alike – to join us in the commitment to reduce our collective environmental footprint and improve the overall health of the planet.
As consumers, we can make a difference by reducing food waste, recycling packaging, using less water and energy and by choosing more energy efficient appliances. Together, our combined actions can have a big impact.
Follow our progress as we report annually in our Global Responsibility Report and via the Carbon Disclosure Project and the Water Disclosure Project.
John Church is the executive vice president of supply chain operations at General Mills, based in Minneapolis. He is responsible for worldwide sourcing, product logistics, manufacturing and global engineering. He joined General Mills in 1988.
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