Ag Weather Forum
Bryce Anderson DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst

Tuesday 07/29/14

General Mills Climate Change Policy

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

Twitter @BAndersonDTN

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.

An Internet version is at this address: http://tinyurl.com/…


(CZ)

Posted at 9:41AM CDT 07/29/14 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (9)
This is good as long as they follow through and that the practices are truly "sustainable". All industries need to have similar polices as in the end creating a smaller carbon footprint is not only good for the environment but also reduces their usage of fossil fuels which are rapidly depleting. Hopefully General Mills will become a model company in this area.
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 6:00AM CDT 07/30/14
Would be nice if they defined their goals and defined what they mean by sustainable agriculture. Without specifics it looks like they are just patting themselves on the back to look green for uninformed consumers like they did when they said Cheerios were GMO free. Average consumer doesn't know oats are all non-GMO. Nice advertising but show us what you really plan to do.
Posted by David Kessler at 9:44AM CDT 07/30/14
I was in the Teamsters Union for 30 years and have developed a real good B.S. detector and right now it is going off big time.
Posted by GORDON KEYES at 10:45AM CDT 07/30/14
Right on Gordon. It starts with Global Warming and climate change misinformation and then comes these sort of solutions. End result is more corporate and government control and less private ownership and control.
Posted by bbob at 1:00PM CDT 07/30/14
Winds are shifting. You climate change guys need to check the news. You have your heads so far in the sand you are not hearing what's going on NOW!
Posted by BD, NE LA. at 6:18AM CDT 07/31/14
" End result is more corporate and government control and less private ownership and control." BINGO! I ask has the writer investigated or anyone seen what these audits to upstream suppliers look like? It is an open book for corporate theft of trade secrets and incredibly evasive into the records of a company. Walmart tried to force this upon our company and some of the audit literally treats you as if you are a third world company. We chose to not expose our company this insanity. Yes we should become more efficient and the free market dictates I walk into my company every day and improve every aspect to remain competitive!
Posted by Unknown at 8:22AM CDT 07/31/14
I am asking General Mills for more details on the actions cited in the news release. I would think that the farm organization policy staff folks would also be in touch on this topic.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 8:47AM CDT 07/31/14
There is not such a thing as, "upstream", in ecology. When the entire picture is viewed, the Circle of Life would be a much more accurate description of the subject. As long as people are consuming food, they are someplace on the circle. Defining upstream or downstream is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Sustainable agriculture has a legal definition, as adopted by Congress. Too bad people abuse this in order to justify and support their own agenda.
Posted by Bonnie Dukowitz at 8:45AM CDT 08/04/14
If you read this arrival and one from a while back about wall-marts ideas you must ask yourself how long before this turns into another mess of rules and regulations hanging over our head. No matter how you look at it we as farmers do the best job we can do with the resources at hand, use this for example, no one told anyone in a drought area that they should leave the seeder in the shed this year because it wouldn't rain. What can they do for us, the drought strickin farmer had more emissions per bushel of crop he produced. How can you change this situation. All I can say is that this is a dream for them, a headache for us, and another scam for a tree hugger to blame his problems on someone else and give the EPA something more to think about. Pass it on "down stream" our "circle of life"
Posted by JAMIE KOUBA at 12:00AM CDT 08/07/14
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