Collaboration and transparency

We engage with stakeholders to accelerate our progress on social and environmental initiatives.


In 2015, General Mills collaborated with Hudson Consulting to update the company’s materiality assessment.

The update constituted a total of about 50 survey responses from external partners and experts:

  • Nongovernmental organizations
  • Customers
  • Industry associations 
  • Academics
  • Leaders and content experts from across our company

The assessment evaluated the impact each issue below has on General Mills, plus how important it is to external stakeholders for our us to address each issue. 

This analysis helped us frame the most material topics as they relate to General Mills’ global responsibility strategy and reporting.

Issue Description
Access to new markets
Enter new markets responsibly, and take into account regulatory, political and infrastructure considerations 
Animal welfare
Ensure the ethical treatment of animals raised by suppliers
Conserve biodiversity through sustainable sourcing practices
Biotechnology Work to educate the public on use of genetically modified organisms and meet consumer demands for increased information
Business consolidation across the food sector Adapt to a changing food system landscape that includes consolidation among retailers, distributors and growers
Climate change, deforestation and changing land use Advance strategies to help mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change in agricultural and food production systems
Commodity pricing and availability Maintain reliable access to key commodities and inputs
Diverse consumer needs Meet changing consumer needs and diversify our product offerings based on geography, culture, values and economic means
Energy costs Manage energy usage and costs throughout the value chain, including agriculture, production, transportation and distribution
Food safety Set and maintain high standards for food safety and quality
Food security Improve access to healthy, affordable food for the world’s growing population
Food waste Improve access to healthy, affordable food for the world’s growing population
Health and nutrition wellness Improve the health profile of products and engage in public discussions on healthy and nutritious lifestyles
Human rights in the supply chain Respect the human rights of all workers
Packaging footprint Reduce the environmental impact of packaging
Responsible marketing Adhere to internal and industry guidelines regarding consumer communications
Smallholder farmers Support smallholder farmers’ capability and capacity to maintain viable operations
Soil fertility Maintain and foster healthy soils through improved land management and agricultural practices
Supply chain relationships Build and strengthen supplier partnerships across the value chain
Traceability Increase the ability to track the origin and movement of ingredients, packaging and other inputs throughout the value chain
Transparency Communicate openly with key stakeholders on material issues, including through brands
Water stewardship Manage water resources strategically throughout the value chain


The issues we address above are complex – so collaboration is essential to achieving meaningful progress.

In many cases, we work with other companies and organizations to shape standards across our industry. This helps to raise the performance of the industry overall.

We determine areas for engagement based on issues that are material to our global responsibility strategy and where we can have the greatest positive impact. 

When engaging with stakeholders, we consider their expertise and insights as well as their capacity, level of influence and willingness to collaborate.

Examples of our engagement activities include:

  • We are participating in the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative, a multi-stakeholder engagement facilitated by Field to Market and Walmart, focused on water quality stewardship in critical watersheds across Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska.
  • Through AIM-PROGRESS, a group of major manufacturers and suppliers collaborating to advance responsible sourcing and sustainability, we have developed mutual recognition of supplier audits with other manufacturers, easing the burden of compliance for our suppliers.
  • In 2015, our cereal innovation team held face-to-face discussions with more than 3,000 consumers as we researched new ideas related to healthier cereals.


Communicating openly about our social and environmental commitments, programs, products, performance and challenges is essential to building and maintaining stakeholder trust inside and outside of General Mills.

Examples include:

  • For the last several years, General Mills has engaged Ceres – a coalition of investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups working with companies to advance their environmental and social performance – to provide input on the annual Global Responsibility Report.
  • We have participated in CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) every year since its inception in 2000 and increased our disclosure score from 80 in 2014 to 91 in 2015.
  • To promote comparability, we align our disclosure with external frameworks such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines and the United Nations Global Compact.

Learn more

2016 Annual Report

150 years of growth 

Global Responsibility

2016 report