MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota - Today, General Mills was named an AgWater Steward by Ceres and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for having far-reaching, ongoing water commitments and for showing action across all five categories of the group’s AgWater Challenge -- including water risk assessments and setting reduction goals, reducing water risk in agricultural supply chains and supporting producers in addressing these issues.
“We’ve done a tremendous amount of work throughout our entire value chain to reduce and conserve our water resources and it’s an honor to be recognized by two organizations that are global leaders in facilitating conservation and change,” said Jerry Lynch, chief sustainability officer and vice president for General Mills. “As a global food company, we have a responsibility to protect the quality and supply of water. We hope our work encourages others to do the same, because collectively we can make a greater impact.”
General Mills has committed to champion the development of water stewardship plans by 2025 for the company’s most material and at-risk watersheds in its global value chain. Those nine watersheds are located in key growing regions from Florida to California in the U.S., China and India. In support of this work, the company is partnering with local stakeholders on sustainable sourcing through collective action and policy advocacy.
"Major food brands can be a powerful and constructive force for scaling water stewardship, particularly when they are engaging directly with their supply chains to strengthen on-farm practices and increase resilience,” said Brooke Barton, senior director of Water and Food at the nonprofit sustainability group Ceres. “Ceres commends General Mills for its leadership, and is pleased to recognize the company as an AgWater Steward today.”
The food sector, which uses 70 percent of global freshwater supplies primarily for growing crops, can play a critical role at protecting limited freshwater resources by supporting farmers ongoing efforts for greater water efficiency.
Approximately 99 percent of the water consumed to create and distribute General Mills products occurs outside the company’s direct operations. The watersheds accessed to meet the needs of the company’s facilities also support demands from agriculture, municipalities, other industries and ecosystems; so improving the health of these watersheds requires significant collaboration.
“We were with General Mills at the start of their journey to address supply chain and water risks,” said Lindsay Bass, manager of corporate water stewardship for WWF. “It’s encouraging to see their commitment to continued progress with a sustainability vision that addresses priority growing regions with high water risks through collective action and policy engagement.”
Seven food and beverage companies are participants in the AgWater Challenge and were surveyed on their sustainable sourcing and water stewardship plans against specific criteria. General Mills is recognized as one of three AgWater Stewards named. Ceres and WWF will evaluate and report on companies’ progress against their commitments in one year.
Earlier this year, General Mills made a commitment to champion development of water stewardship plans by 2025 for the company’s most material and at-risk watersheds in its global value chain.
Learn more about General Mills’ sustainability mission, environmental commitments and progress.
The AgWater Challenge aims to spur companies to make time-bound and measurable commitments to reduce the water impacts associated with key agricultural commodities, implement locally-relevant strategies to mitigate risk in agricultural areas where water is scarce or polluted and support and incentivize farmers to strengthen water stewardship practices.
To be named an AgWater Steward, companies had to complete minimal criteria, including setting a time-bound goal for completing a water risk assessment across their supply chains and setting sustainable sourcing goals. The AgWater Challenge recognizes that all companies’ efforts are a work in progress. For more information on the AgWater Challenge and for methodology visit www.ceres.org/issues.
Ceres is a non-profit organization that is mobilizing many of the world’s largest companies and investors to take stronger action on climate change, water scarcity and other global sustainability challenges. Ceres directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk, a group of 120 institutional investors managing about $14 trillion assets focused on the business risks and opportunities of climate change. For more information, visit www.ceres.org.
About General Mills
General Mills is a leading global food company that serves the world by making food people love. Its brands include Cheerios, Annie’s, Yoplait, Nature Valley, Fiber One, Haagen-Dazs, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Old El Paso, Wanchai Ferry, Yoki and more. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, General Mills had fiscal 2016 worldwide sales of US $17.6 billion, including the company’s US $1.0 billion proportionate share of joint-venture net sales.