General Mills doubles down on organic

by Rebekah Schouten
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General Mills organic acreage
General Mills expects to have 250,000 organic acres by 2019.

MINNEAPOLIS — General Mills, Inc. is accelerating its commitment to more than double the organic acreage from which it sources ingredients. The company expects to have 250,000 acres by 2019, a year ahead of its previous goal.

Increasing organic acreage is a step forward in General Mills’ goal to grow net sales from its natural and organic products. The company expects to reach $1 billion in net sales from natural and organic products by 2019, said Jeff Harmening, the company’s vice-president and chief operating officer for U.S. Retail.

John Church, General Mills
John Church, executive v.p. for General Mills’ supply chain

“To achieve the growth we anticipate for our natural and organic brands, we will need a more robust pipeline of organic growers,” said John Church, executive vice-president for General Mills’ supply chain. “We’re building strategic relationships directly with farmers for our products and are dedicated to working with growers to optimize production and quality, adopt standard practices and accelerate supply.”

General Mills has increased the organic acreage it supports by 120% since 2009, making it the second largest buyer of organic fruits and vegetables and placing it within the top five organic ingredient purchasers in the North American packaged food segment.

General Mills natural and organic products - Cascadian Farms, Annie's, Food Should Taste Good
General Mills' portfolio of natural and organic brands includes Cascadian Farm, Annie's and Food Should Taste Good.

The company also now ranks as the third largest natural and organic food maker in the United States. Since 2000, General Mills has acquired a portfolio of natural and organic brands totaling $675 million in pro forma net sales in fiscal year 2015. The portfolio includes Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, Larabar, Liberte, Mountain High, Food Should Taste Good, Immaculate Baking and Annie’s. In January, the company also acquired Epic Provisions, a meat snacks maker based in Austin, Texas.

General Mills’ commitment to doubling organic acreage also meshes with its pledge to address climate change. The company announced a goal to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions across its entire value chain by 2025, with a long-term goal of achieving sustainable emission levels in line with scientific consensus by 2050.
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