Investing in the organic farming pipeline
General Mills is investing $50,000 to support the Canada-based Prairie Organic Grain Initiative (POGI), a multi-year program whose mission is to increase both the quantity and quality of organic field crops grown in Canada.
“We believe the Prairie Organic Grain Initiative represents a significant opportunity for General Mills to further build our capabilities and pave the way for us to become an industry leader in natural and organic,” said Beth RobertsonMartin, senior manager of natural and organic sourcing at General Mills.
The POGI is a new organization that has received funding from the Canadian federal government, provincial organic associations and several food companies, including KIND, Nature’s Path and Dave’s Killer Bread.
The organic food market has been growing rapidly, which has made sourcing certified organic ingredients increasingly difficult. POGI’s primary focus is to address the shortage of organic grain growers by initiating several programs that will entice conventional growers to make the transition to organic farming.
“Not only will this help us secure long-term access to the organic ingredients we need to create our products, but it also helps cement General Mills’ growing reputation as a pivotal player in the growing organic movement,” says Mary Cavanaugh, director of our Natural & Organic Center of Excellence.
“Recognizing our expansion in natural and organic will require a more robust pipeline of natural and organic growers, we are focused on doubling the amount of organic farming acreage in North America by 2020,” adds Beth. “POGI is one way we’re ensuring the long-term sustainable supply of these ingredients.”
Among the crops General Mills could source through this relationship are organic oats, wheat, flax, canola and sunflowers, to name a few. So this arrangement could touch many of our brands.
This investment comes on the heels of the company’s announcement earlier this year to nearly double our natural and organic sales to $1 billion by 2020.
Since 2000, General Mills has steadily grown its natural and organic business with the acquisitions of brands like Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, LÄRABAR, Food Should Taste Good, Immaculate Baking, Liberté and Mountain High.
Today, with the addition of Annie’s in 2014, General Mills is the fourth-largest U.S. natural and organic food producer and among the top five organic ingredient purchasers in the North American packaged foods sector.
In Canada, the organic food market has tripled since 2006 – from $1 billion to $3 billion. In the U.S., this segment has been growing at about 12 percent a year.
“The initiative will focus on increasing both the quantity and quality of organic field crops while building stronger market relationships,” stated the press release from Organic Alberta, which will serve as the headquarters for POGI.
To learn more about General Mills’ ongoing sustainable sourcing efforts, visit GeneralMills.com/Responsibility.
For more information about POGI, visit OrganicAlberta.org.
Editor’s note: Photos are from Organic Alberta.
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