General Mills has released its 2017 Global Responsibility Report, outlining the company’s approach to creating environmental, social, and economic value in the countries where it operates. General Mills continues to make progress toward nutrition improvements and sustainable sourcing of its food, as well as climate and pollinator protection.
Nutrition: General Mills has lowered sugar by 5%–30% in more than 260 products. Most notably, the company has reduced sugar in Yoplait Original yogurt by 25%, and all General Mills Big G kid cereals are at 10 g of sugar or less per serving. It has also made investments to address changing consumer preferences. Today, more than half of General Mills’ U.S. retail products are labeled as free from artificial flavors, artificial preservatives, or colors from artificial sources. Since Gluten-Free Rice Chex was launched in 2008, General Mills has grown its portfolio of gluten-free products to more than 1,000 items.
Sustainability: In 2013, General Mills made a commitment to sustainably source 100% of the company’s 10 priority ingredients—cocoa, vanilla, oats, U.S. wheat, U.S. sugar beets, U.S. corn (dry milled), U.S. dairy (raw fluid milk), fiber packaging, sugar cane, and palm oil—by 2020. Four years into the commitment, the company is at 69% of its goal. To date, the most significant progress has been made toward palm oil (100%), fiber packaging (99%), as well as 50% or more of sugar beets, sugar cane, and oats.
Natural resources: In 2016, General Mills and The Nature Conservancy unveiled ReThink Soil: A Roadmap to Soil Health. The roadmap outlines 10 key steps spanning scientific, economic, and policy priorities to achieve widespread adoption on more than 50% of U.S. farmland by 2025. These efforts could result in more than $50 billion in social and environmental benefits annually. In addition, General Mills set a goal to develop water stewardship plans for the company’s most material and at-risk watersheds in its global value chain by 2025. The company worked in partnership with The Nature Conservancy to reassess and identify priority locations across worldwide operations. In addition, every General Mills production facility has a target to decrease water by 1% annually, normalized to production.
In 2016, the company partnered with the Xerces Society and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) to restore and protect pollinator habitat across hundreds of acres of farmland in North America. The five-year, $4 million financial commitment between General Mills and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) supports farmers across the United States by providing technical assistance to plant and protect pollinator habitat, such as native wildflower field edges and flowering hedgerows. Through 2021, this partnership will help to plant more than 100,000 acres of pollinator habitat.
Communities: Throughout the last year, the company and its Foundation donated more than $147 million to key initiatives that support communities around the globe, and enabled 57 million meals through General Mills food donations globally. General Mills worked with grantees in the United States and abroad to rescue more than 2.2 billion lb of excess food to feed the hungry rather than go to landfills. Through the Box Tops for Education program, General Mills donated more than $51 million in 2016 to K–8 schools in the United States.