Kellogg has committed to responsibly source 10 ingredients by 2020, including corn for Kellogg's corn flakes.

BATTLE CREEK, MICH. — The Kellogg Co. took “several bold steps forward” in 2014 as part of its evolution toward becoming an even more responsible and transparent company, John Bryant, chairman and chief executive officer, wrote in the company’s 2014 Corporate Responsibility Report issued April 22.

“First, we announced a broad and ambitious set of 2020 Sustainability Commitments, which reflect our renewed focus on sustainability not just in our own operations, but across our value chain,” Mr. Bryant said. “Through these commitments, we are seeking to further reduce our own environmental impacts, help our agricultural suppliers and farmers implement sustainable agricultural practices, and support more smallholder and women farmers.”

Kellogg has committed to responsibly source by 2020 its 10 global key ingredients: corn, wheat, rice, potatoes, sugar (beet and cane), cocoa, palm oil, fruits (berries, raisins/sultanas) and vanilla.

“By ‘responsibly source’ we mean supporting continuous improvement in environmental and social indicators through a combination of certification, direct investment in programs on the ground, and/or documented continuous improvement in the places where these ingredients are grown,” Kellogg said.

The company also has pledged to validate social compliance across all direct suppliers by 2015, and, in the area of sustainable agriculture, intends to continue to help agricultural suppliers, millers and farmers to adapt and be resilient to climate change and optimize water use and enhance watershed quality, among other things.

As an example of its efforts, Kellogg said it has spent the past five years working with Bunge Milling to collect data in Nebraska using the Fieldprint Calculator, a tool developed by Field to Market, an alliance of which Kellogg is a part. In 2014, the work with Bunge was expanded to include corn growers in Illinois, Indiana and Kansas. The corn from those states is used to make Kellogg products with corn grits, including Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and Frosted Flakes. Kellogg said the objective of the data tracking is to measure improvements across environmental measures such as water use, water quality, GHG emissions, soil carbon, energy use, yields and land conservation. The data has shown reductions in normalized water use, Kellogg said.

A second bold step taken in 2014 was the sharing of Kellogg’s Global Breakfast Food Beliefs. Mr. Bryant said the beliefs “illuminate the company’s focus and commitments relating to our Kellogg’s-branded breakfast foods.”

“We know that consumers care deeply about nutrition, sustainability and communities, and that they are more likely to purchase Kellogg foods — specifically breakfast foods — when they understand our commitment to those areas and have a sense of shared values,” he said.

The five beliefs are:

• “We believe in the power of breakfast.

• “We believe our grain-based breakfast provides a superior start to your day.

• “Because grains are at the heart of our breakfast foods, we seek the very best grains, and we believe the best grains are those that are sustainably grown and responsibly sourced.

• “We believe in providing great-tasting, high quality breakfast foods that delight families every morning.

• “We are committed to contributing to a healthier world through a journey of continually developing better breakfast foods and encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle.”

As part of its food beliefs, Kellogg said it established four specific pledges that it will achieve by 2020: add more beneficial nutrients, including protein and omega-3 fatty acids; reduce sugar in foods so that 90% of its ready-to-eat cereals have 10 grams or less of sugar per 30-gram serving; reduce the sodium in cereals on average by more than 30%; and increase nutrition education and active lifestyle communications by 50%.

“Already, we have demonstrated significant progress, reducing sodium, for example, by 29% between 2007 and 2014,” Kellogg said. “We have put tremendous time, effort and research into improving the nutrition profiles of our cereals wherever we can, applying new technologies and formulas that lower sugar and sodium without impacting the tastes our consumers know and love.

“Much of this we have done in ‘stealth’ mode — in other words, gradually, and without fanfare, over time — so consumers wouldn’t notice we had enhanced the nutrition profiles of their favorite cereals. By the end of 2014, 84% of our cereals had 10 grams or less of sugar and 82% had 150 mg or less of sodium per 30-gram serving.”

 Also in 2014, Kellogg began to implement Project K, the company’s four-year global program to drive efficiencies and effectiveness and better align production with demand.

“Project K will help to create a more global structure through global category teams, streamline our end-to-end transactional processes and build the supply chain of the future,” Mr. Bryant said. “It will also serve as a catalyst for growth as we reinvest the savings created through these efficiencies. Throughout the implementation process, we’re committed to maintaining consistency of service to our valued customers, partners, suppliers and other key stakeholders.”