Brainstorming a greener future with Fortune
General Mills Chairman and CEO Ken Powell took the stage at Fortune Brainstorm Green in Laguna Nigel, Calif., Tuesday to talk about the role General Mills and other responsible food companies play in sustainably managing and growing the global food supply.
Ken spoke one-on-one with sustainability journalist and conference moderator Marc Gunther. Ken described General Mills’ approach to responsibility as “Holistic Value Creation” – a model to create value for the business, its suppliers and the community.
“When we talk about holistic value creation, we’re thinking about what we can do along the entire supply chain to benefit everybody who’s involved, both for economic benefits and for sustainability benefits,” Ken said.
Marc noted the release of General Mills 2013 Global Responsibility Report, and inquired what General Mills is doing to make improvements along its value chain, noting that nearly two-thirds of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and 99 percent of water use occurs upstream from General Mills’ operations, primarily in agriculture.
Ken explained how General Mills is actively working with our top 100 U.S. suppliers and our top 15 European suppliers on our “supplier scorecard,” and we plan to increase our collaboration with suppliers around reducing energy use, water use, solid waste generation and GHG emissions.
He also painted a compelling picture about what companies like General Mills can do to mitigate the growing food security challenge. Ken explained that a growing global middle class puts more pressure on food resources as people seek to improve their diets.
“We know that that demand is coming, and we know we’re going to need to increase yields. We know that we’re going to have to develop improved agricultural infrastructure around the world – whether it’s roads or better post-harvest management so there’s less waste. And we’re going to need technology. We’re going to need higher yielding grains in order to meet demand.”