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, Haagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Yoplait, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Wanchai Ferry, Yoki and more. As a 19-year customer of Ryder with reported 2014 worldwide sales of $17.9 billion, General Mills recently announced a bold new climate corporate policy that includes insisting its suppliers take steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions as well as water usage throughout the supply chain, from source to shelf.
Ryder asked them why.
Q: General Mills sells products, so why is the company measuring greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and why do you care about reducing GHG?
A: 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.
Q: You recently announced a new climate policy that relates specifically to the many suppliers you work with – sum it up for us.
A: Our new corporate climate policy 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.
Q: What are the key driving forces behind taking this position?
A: 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 think the imperative is clear: business, together with governments, NGOs and individuals, need to act together to reduce the human impact on climate change. 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 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.