News

Deforestation

As manufacturers and consumers, we understand your concern about deforestation

Overview

We were among the first in our industry to establish (in 2015) an aggressive science-based target commitment to reduce GHG across our full value chain by 28% by 2025, and to achieve sustainable emissions levels by 2050.

We regularly review our global sourcing footprint and have focused effort on those commodities at high risk of driving deforestation, and where we can make a meaningful impact. These are palm oil, fiber packaging and cocoa. In these categories, we work with suppliers and other partners to improve traceability and encourage certification and/or origin direct investment aligned with our sustainable sourcing goals, and to drive sustainability requirements to our upstream supply base.

Approach

As an initial step to help ensure our palm oil purchases do not contribute to deforestation of the world’s rainforests or negatively impact the communities and habitats that depend on them, we have sourced 100 percent of our palm oil as RSPO certified sustainable since 2015; in 2019 we achieved 99% of volumes as physically certified. Our Statement on Palm Oil Sourcing lays out clear principles we expect of direct suppliers, to ensure that they are in line with industry best practices.

As of December 2020, 97% of our supplier volumes were covered by a public No deforestation, No peat and No exploitation (NDPE) policy aligned with our sourcing expectations. Our aim is to achieve 100% supplier coverage for all volumes globally and to include volumes in high-risk landscapes such as the Leuser Ecosystem. We ourselves are committed to working with our peers, competitors and partners to support the development of credible monitoring mechanisms and protocols in the shortest timeframe possible.

Our approach to responsible palm sourcing is continually evolving and, in line with our commitment to protect forests and peatlands, we increasingly see a need to support on-the-ground activities that address the drivers of deforestation within high-risk production landscapes. We share the concern of others about ongoing deforestation in the Leuser Ecosystem and are aware that our upstream suppliers are actively engaged in smallholder traceability programs as well as concession-based monitoring. In 2020, we launched a new partnership with Musim Mas to invest in a smallholder hub program focused on improving the economic security of smallholders and assisting smallholders on their journey towards sustainable production, through collaboration with local government.  Investment from General Mills will support the hiring of village extension officers who will provide good agricultural practice, financial literacy and NDPE training and resources to smallholders in Aceh Singkil, Sumatra, Indonesia.  

Priority ingredients 

For fiber packaging, General Mills has a target to source 100 percent by 2020 from recycled material or from virgin wood fiber regions where there is demonstrably low risk of any deforestation. We follow pulp, paper and packaging sourcing guidelines developed by the Consumer Goods Forum. In 2020, 99% of our fiber packaging supply is considered at low risk of contributing to global deforestation because the packaging uses either recycled materials or virgin fiber that is sourced from regions where deforestation is not occurring.

The remaining 1% is sourced from countries considered at high risk, particularly China. We’ve assessed suppliers in China to better understand certifications in use. Beginning in 2020, our fiber purchased from China is only sourced from suppliers that have FSC Mix certification or better. Link to further details on our fiber packaging volume and origin are to be added in the near future to support our packaging objectives. Further work on high risk origin traceability will be conducted in 2021 and we’ll update the website accordingly. 

On cocoa, over 90% of our supply comes from West Africa and 95% of our global supply comes from three key suppliers – Barry Callebaut, Cargill and Olam.  We work closely with NGO and supplier partners on the ground in Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire and invest to scale sustainable sourcing programs with a focus on strengthening smallholder farmer livelihoods, empowering women and improving ingredient quality. In 2020, 100% of our cocoa volumes were covered by these programs.

Additionally, in March 2017 we signed on to the World Cocoa Foundation’s Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI) to combat deforestation in key cocoa growing regions and drive progress towards our science-based 2025 GHG emissions reduction goal out to Scope 3.  Through this initiative we have worked closely with suppliers, stakeholders and Proforest to identify strategic actions to protect and restore forests, increase sustainable production, and promote social and community engagement. As one of only two CFI signatories in the non-confectionary manufacturing space, we are proud of plans to deepen our investment at origin to expand impact and address deforestation. Additionally, we work with suppliers who plan to leverage full traceability – planned for 2022 – to address deforestation risks within their supply chains. 

Our CFI action plans for Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire can be viewed here. We’ll leverage learnings from CFI in West Africa to inform the rest of our world strategies.

 

Other commodities 

For other commodities often associated with deforestation such as soy, meat and dairy, our exposure to regions at high risk of deforestation are minimal. While we operate businesses around the globe, most of our ingredients support our North American and European operations where we work with local suppliers, farmers and ranchers. 

For soy, over 99% is sourced from North American origins that pose no risk for deforestation. Soy products for animal feed are purchased almost exclusively from U.S. and/or other origins with minimal to zero deforestation risk. 

We are not a significant player in meat procurement globally. Meat for our North American businesses are procured from domestic sources. Our meat buy that comes from the Latin American region is approximately 0.1% of our worldwide meat spend. 

The majority of our dairy volume is fluid milk sourced from local dairies in the US, Canada and the EU with zero risk of deforestation. Furthermore, our exposure to dairy products originating from Latin America and Asia has decreased significantly due to business divestitures in both Brazil and China. Moving forward, our forecasted volume for dairy products originating from Asia and Latin America is approximately 0.037% of our worldwide dairy purchases.

 

Summary 

We are proud to be one of the world’s largest food companies and yet still have minimal sourcing exposure to deforestation risks. We will continue to share information on key commodities as part of our annual Global Responsibility Report (GRR) and supplemental information for cocoa through our CFI country action plans. See also our 2019 Global Responsibility Report.