Global NGO Oxfam praised the move, describing it as a “bold step” towards becoming an industry leader on tackling climate change.
Oxfam published its Standing on the Sidelines report as part of the Behind the Brands campaign mid-May that called out the ‘Big 10’ food companies on “significant” greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. General Mills and Kellogg were highlighted as “clear laggards” among the food majors - something both companies disputed at the time.
Discussing the policy revamp, Oxfam’s Behind the Brands campaign manager Monique van Zijl said: “Rather than stand by silently as increasingly dangerous conditions undermine its business and the food we all eat, General Mills aims to be part of the solution. Political leaders and others in the industry should take note.”
Increased transparency and GHG reduction targets
General Mills will increase transparency across its supply chain; releasing total supply chain GHG reduction targets (including agricultural emissions) by August 2015, disclosing its top three palm oil and sugar cane suppliers; and regularly assessing supplier practices.
In addition, the cereal giant has pledged to achieve zero net deforestation across sugarcane, soy and beef in addition to palm oil and packaging fiber by 2020.
Speaking to BakeryandSnacks.com, Oxfam America’s senior press officer Ben Grossman-Cohen said the move should set a precedent for the rest of industry to follow, especially Kellogg.
“When we started this campaign, we had Kellogg and General Mills in our focus as the two companies we thought would be best positioned to lead on this, and were also falling behind on certain areas compared to the rest of industry.
“Especially as they’re competitors in a lot of products, it made a lot of sense for them to be looking at these issues in similar ways. Now General Mills is taking a step, we do think the focus is on Kellogg,” he said.
The sustainability ball was now firmly in Kelloggs' court, he added.
Oxfam is talking to Kellogg
Oxfam worked closely with General Mills over the past few months to establish its policy, Grossman-Cohen said, along with other associations including WWF and the World Resources Institute. This collaborative effort had enabled technical details to be refined and ensure General Mills' plan was achievable for the company, and others, he explained.
Asked if Oxfam was in conversation with Kellogg, he said it was, but the company had shown no formal indication of changing its climate change policy yet.
“It’s too early to say what they’re willing to do, but I don’t think it’s unlikely that we would see them take steps in the future. It’s just it will require a little bit of extra attention and pressure on them. We think this announcement [from General Mills] will put that pressure on.”
General Mills has pledged to: define and disclose its total supply chain greenhouse gas reduction target by August 2015, with a focus on reducing agricultural emissions; achieve zero net deforestation across sugarcane, soy and beef supply chains in addition to palm oil and packaging fiber by 2020; disclose its top three palm oil and sugar cane suppliers; participate in the Carbon Disclosure Project; publically push for a public and industry association policy on tackling climate change; join BICEP [Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy] to sign onto the Climate Declaration; regularly review policies to ensure they align with targets; and assess supplier practices and where necessary take action to address issues. The full pledge is available HERE.