Addressing climate impacts across value chains

John Church, Executive Vice President of Supply Chain, General Mills, Inc.

Women smallholder farmers in Kenya, Steven Walling, 14 October 2010, CC 2.0

As a global food company, our most effective contribution to fighting climate change is working with growers, suppliers, customers and industry partners to reduce climate impacts together.

Part of the Climate Dialogues blog series

General Mills has served the world by making food people love for nearly 150 years. Our aim is to continue to serve the world for another 150 years.

In order to do that, we must do our part to protect and conserve natural resources. Our business depends on it and so does the planet.

Climate change is one of the most pressing environmental issues that our society faces today. There are numerous risks that climate change presents to our livelihoods, our industry and our shared planet if left unaddressed. As a global food company, these risks include:

  • The health of our ecosystems that support our consumers and agriculture.
  • More severe weather events and droughts, which will negatively impact the availability and supply of raw materials from agriculture.
  • And stress on farm families in vulnerable growing regions that provide important food ingredients.

Above all, with our planet’s population expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, we realize the challenges associated with providing food for more people in a resource constrained world. 

We want to be part of the solution and we are committed to addressing climate change while hopefully encouraging others to join us along the way. 

In fact, as part of our ongoing efforts to conserve and protect natural resources and communities, we recently announced a goal to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent across our full value chain – from farm to fork to landfill – over the next 10 years.

This commitment was calculated using science-based methodologies to ensure we achieve the level of emission reductions that science suggests is necessary to sustain the health of our planet.

In addition, looking beyond 2025, our long term aspiration is to achieve sustainable emission levels by 2050, which by today’s scientific consensus would require a reduction of 50 to 70 percent absolute emissions.

For years, General Mills has been committed to reducing our environmental footprint. In 2013, we 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 and have a significant impact on our total environmental footprint.

Working with Smallholder Farmers

As part of our sustainable sourcing strategy, we are working with suppliers and farmers to strengthen sustainable farming practices as well as building capabilities that enable us to assess and address potential human rights impacts throughout our supply chain.

In the developing world, we work with our suppliers in helping smallholder farmers strengthen their farming practices and livelihoods, and ensuring safe and healthy working conditions.

We believe our greatest impact on climate change will occur by working across our value chain with growers, suppliers, customers and industry partners to reduce our climate impact together.

Climate change is a shared, global challenge that is best addressed at scale. One company will not mitigate climate change alone. To this end, no one company controls their entire value chain. Every company, government and individual has a part to play in protecting our planet for future generations. We can all make a difference.

General Mills’ climate commitment is an ambitious one, but it’s one that I’m proud of and one we believe is achievable with the support and partnership from equally ambitious partners.