Supporting Strong Organic Standards
- We’re proud of our long history of engagement to develop strong, national U.S. organic standards, and have fought to promote and protect the integrity of the standard and advance its continuous improvement.
- General Mills executive and first sustainability officer, Gene Kahn, was a founding member of the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) which wrote the first standards for certified organic food production in the U.S.
- Today we support efforts to increase U.S. organic acreage through strategic engagements and by building infrastructure for farmers, including, but not limited to applied research, extension, and education/outreach.
- General Mills engaged with trade association partners including the Organic Trade Association the International Dairy Foods Association and the North American Millers’ Association in advocacy supporting the National Organic Program (NOP); Strengthening Organic Enforcement final rule. The final rule protects the integrity of the organic supply chain and build consumer and industry trust in the USDA organic label.
- In 2018 our organic brands – Annie’s and Cascadian Farm – joined in calling on Congress to continue to support NOSB.
- Annie’s, Cascadian Farm and Muir Glen also joined a letter to Congress in 2018 urging support for funding the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), which seeks to address issues, priorities, or problems in organic agriculture through the integration of research, education, and extension activities.
- General Mills and members of the Organic Trade Association Dairy Council signed a letter to support the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) to finalize a 2015 rule, providing the organic dairy industry with consistent, clear regulation on the transition of conventional livestock to organic production and protecting the integrity of organic dairy production.
Advancing Water Stewardship
- As a global food company, water is critical to our business. We take a broad approach to water stewardship, looking beyond our company’s walls to the phases of our value chain that drive overall use.
- We also engage policy makers to drive more sustainable water practices. Examples include our membership in the California Water Action Collaborative, a platform for diverse stakeholders to pursue projects to improve water security in California for people, business, agriculture and nature, and Connect the Drops, which educates California lawmakers about such efforts and advocates for policy solutions.
Addressing Packaging and Food Waste
- General Mills promotes policies to effectively and efficiently increase packaging recycling rates and reduce waste – you can read more about our global packaging ambitions here.
- In the United States, we are a leader in AMERIPEN – the American Institute for Packaging and the Environment – which conducts research and advocates for policy changes at the state and federal level.
- As a leading member of the Consumer Brands Association, we support their convening of the Recycling Leadership Council which built a public policy framework to fundamentally reimagine the U.S. recycling system.
- General Mills signed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s America Recycles Pledge to build on our existing efforts to address the challenges facing our nation's recycling system and to identify solutions that create a more resilient materials economy and protect the environment.
- General Mills is part of the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, a partnership of U.S. food manufacturers, grocery retailers restaurants and foodservice companies working to reduce food waste; and the International Food Waste Coalition.
- General Mills was named by the United States Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration as a 2030 Food Waste and Loss Champion.
- We support the nonprofit organization, ReFED (“Re-think Food Waste through Economics and Data”), which works to prevent food waste and recover surplus food by aligning and mobilizing cross-sector coalitions.
- We are a founding partner with Feeding America. Recently General Mills was Feeding America’s leading partner in developing their logistics network and Meal Connect, an app that connects excess food to local food banks. Our partnership includes food donations, promotional marketing, and local volunteerism. To date we've been able to rescue almost two billion pounds of food.
- For more than two decades, we have supported efforts to fight food waste and hunger on college and university campuses via The Campus Kitchens Project and Food Recovery Network (recently combined), which have engaged 125,000+ students at 230 colleges and universities in food waste reduction programs.
Our goal is to provide a diverse portfolio of products that contribute to the well-being of consumers and meet a variety of needs.
Annually, we share results on the variety and nutritional characteristics of our product portfolio. We are proud to report that in fiscal 2020, 43% of General Mills global volume met our criteria as “Nutrition-Forward Foods.” Learn more about our global health reporting.
Our marketing policies ensure that our child-directed advertising promotes only lower-calorie, nutrient dense products. We take particular care around the content and nature of advertising directed to children – including pre-screening of our ads by the Better Business Bureau’s Children’s Advertising Review Unit.
We engage in public policy to advance these nutrition priorities, including the following actions:
- During the COVIC-19 pandemic, we supported efforts to keep children and families from experiencing hunger.
- We supported flexibilities in USDA food and nutrition programs to ensure full benefit access to WIC, School Lunch, Breakfast and SNAP.
- In January 2022 and February 2021, General Mills partnered with hunger organizations and peers in a letter to Congressional leadership expressing support for inclusion of food security and nutrition provisions in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The legislation became Public Law on March 11, 2021. Access the 2022 letter here and the 2021 letter here.
- In August 2020, General Mills and corporate partners of No Kid Hungry wrote to USDA Secretary Perdue expressing support for USDA to continue flexibilities. The flexibilities were extended through June 2021. Access the letter here.
- In March 2020 General Mills employees came together to ensure WIC consumers had access to the food they need during the COVID-19 pandemic. We worked to ensure that our facilities prioritized making foods that are most approved and popular among WIC participants. We also reached out to State WIC agencies to provide a list of General Mills WIC-eligible products that qualify for USDA's WIC Food Package Substitution Waiver.
- Supporting strong Dietary Guidelines for Americans (see our recommendations to the Advisory Committee for the 2020-2025 DGAs in July 2019 here & here and in January 2020 here).
- GMI supports voluntary sodium reduction efforts, as evidenced by our continued work in regional sodium reduction initiatives. See our comments on Voluntary Short Term Sodium Targets here.
- Supporting the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s efforts to reflect the newest scientific information in the definition of “healthy” (see our letter to FDA).
- Supporting strong U.S. school nutrition standards, including encouraging USDA to balance meal program flexibility and efficiency while ensuring Dietary Guidelines recommendations are followed, especially related to whole grain-rich offerings.
- Supporting the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and WIC consumer access to a variety of fortified ready-to-eat whole grain breakfast cereals and yogurt. We identify opportunities for our nutritionists and staff to work directly with scientific communities and USDA who are charged with developing recommendations for the “WIC Food Basket” to ensure our input is considered in their recommendations.
- General Mills and Kellogg’s annually celebrate National Cereal Day with lawmakers in Washington, DC sharing information about the nutritional benefits and affordability of ready-to-eat cereal.
Learn more about our Nutrition and Food Safety Partnerships and Collaborations
Ensuring Safe Food
Leading with safety – in the workplace and the food we make – is a key operating principle at General Mills. We invested US $16.6 million in food safety in fiscal 2022; equal to 10.7% of our total essential supply chain capital investment for the year.
We have a long history in food safety leadership. More than 50 years ago, we developed the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) process with NASA for ensuring food safety. The HACCP approach identifies key stages in production where food safety risks can be minimized or eliminated. Today, HACCP has become the food industry’s gold standard and the backbone of many countries’ food safety regulations around the world.
Food safety leadership is a differentiator for General Mills, but not an area of competition. We freely share our best practices and collaborate with peers and regulators to raise standards industrywide.
We engage in public policy discussions to ensure safe food, including the following actions:
- We strongly support the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the largest revamp of U.S. food safety laws in decades, and its goal of raising up food safety standards across the food value chain. We supported the originating legislation for FSMA and the regulations for its implementation, and have consistently called on Congress to maintain adequate funding for FSMA implementation.
Increasing Food Security and Strengthening Communities
General Mills works to ensure all members of a community have access to nutritious and sufficient food through strategic initiatives, grants, food donations and knowledge sharing. We are a founding partner with Feeding America.
- The General Mills Foundation has donated $2.5 billion to charitable causes since 1954. In fiscal 2022 alone, General Mills gave $90 million to charitable causes.
- In fiscal 2022, 29 million meals were enabled by donations of General Mills food worldwide.
- Together with our philanthropic partners, we helped enable 7.4 billion meals worldwide in fiscal 2022 and 35.5 billion meals since 2019.
- We recently partnered with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation to publish the Prioritizing Food Security Solutions toolkit and the Alliance to End Hunger to publish a Self-Assessment Workbook for the Hunger Free Communities Network. These assets help local communities identify their own unique needs and assets to tackle food insecurity.
We engage in public policy discussions to increase food security and strengthen communities, including the following actions:
Increasing Food Security
- At the federal level, we are a longtime supporter of The Congressional Hunger Center and its Emerson Hunger Fellowship Program which works to make issues of domestic and international hunger a priority to U.S. policymakers and to raise a new generation of leaders to fight against hunger and poverty.
- General Mills is proud to have received the 2018 Corporate Partner Hunger Leadership Award from The Congressional Hunger Center, for centering food security, sustainable agriculture, and strengthening hometown communities in our philanthropic strategy.
- We work with several initiatives at the state level to increase food security, including:
- Strengthening our Communities
- At General Mills, we advocate for inclusive public policies and add our voice to help lead change.
- General Mills advocates for racial equity, focusing on our headquarters community of Minneapolis. General Mills condemned the killing of George Floyd, perpetrated just miles from our headquarters. In coalition, we swiftly called on the MN State Legislature to enact reforms aimed at preventing unacceptable police behavior and holding perpetrators accountable. We led the creation of the Minnesota Business Coalition for Racial Equity, a group of companies who aim to create a more prosperous Minnesota with and for Black Minnesotans – a new approach based on the partnership between business and the community. There will be much more work to be done in the years to come. We are clear in our commitment to remain engaged, and have made specific commitments to advance racial equity in education, food access and representation.
- General Mills supports inclusive U.S. immigration policy. We are a member of the New American Economy, a coalition of diverse business leaders who support immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans today. And we stood up and called on Congress to immediately pass the bipartisan Dream Act or legislation that provides Dreamers raised in our country the permanent solution they deserve.
- General Mills supports inclusive LGBT public policy. We are a long-standing leader in the HRC Corporate Equality Index, which includes public policy engagement as a key measure. We proudly lobbied to pass the Respect for Marriage Act. We are strong supporters of the Equality Act, and submitted a statement for the congressional record. General Mills executives publicly testified before the U.S. Congress – in 2007 and 2012 for predecessor measures to show our support. We joined the business brief to the U.S. Supreme Court supporting marriage equality, and we were the largest company opposing an amendment to the constitution in our home state that would have blocked marriage equality.
- General Mills has a long history of supporting employees’ civic engagement. We continually host informational webinars and offer nonpartisan voting information and resources to our employees.
- In addition to our philanthropic support for our hometown communities, we also develop important community partnerships that drive economic growth and increase connectedness. For example, we played a catalyst role in our hometown in the formation of both Greater MSP – the Minneapolis St. Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership, and MBOLD, which mobilizes Minnesota's globally leading concentration of food and agriculture leadership to develop practical solutions to global challenges facing the food and agriculture sectors.
- General Mills responded to a request from the State of Minnesota to help residents struggling to afford nutritious food during the COVID-19 pandemic. Working with the state we developed a digital marketing platform for the campaign, www.mnfoodhelper.org, to bring awareness for SNAP. The announcement can be found here.
Informing Consumers and Increasing Awareness
We are committed to increasing transparency and helping you understand what's in your food. That's why we are putting more information in more places, including the following initiatives:
- General Mills pioneered food allergen labeling in the 1990s, and our leadership continues today. We voluntarily included sesame as a labeled allergen and supported industry efforts to advance the FASTER Act, which will lead to sesame being labeled as an allergen in the US. Learn more about allergen labeling here.
- AskGeneralMills.com: Get answers about our food.
- SmartLabel™: Offers U.S. product information in a consistent, easy-to-access digital format.
- Non-GMO Project Verified: A non-profit third-party verification for non-GMO food and products.
- Bioengineered Disclosure: We disclose the presence of bioengineered ingredients (GMOs) on our U.S. packages under the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard for FDA and USDA regulated products. We voluntarily label all products that contain highly refined BE ingredients.
We support public policy efforts to inform our consumers and increase their awareness about our products, including bioengineered ingredients, nutrition facts, and recyclability of packaging.