General Mills brought on Changing Tastes immediately following its acquisition of Cascadian Farms and its decision to launch the first “corporate sustainability program.” In doing taking this then-novel step back in 2003, it also became the first major US food company to have a sustainability strategy and program.
With developed new approaches for General Mills that later became industry standards, including assessing the environmental impact of the company’s supply chains and not just its own operations as well as making a set of forward looking, measurable commitments that paralleled the way companies forecast financial performance. These commitments and the metrics to measure progress address greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and pesticide use among other factors.
The work also entailed our partnering with senior executives to develop the company’s initial strategy. This included conducting a “archeological” scan of existing brands and supply chains and identified existing agriculture and production practices that could be scaled across the entire company.
We worked to integrate the sustainability program into the company and its brands, identifying those practices that should be marketed to consumers to increase demand for sustainably produced and healthier foods, and those that should be mainly communicated to investors and other business partners. Following that scan, we developed a virtual training program and a series of management decision tools that provided more than 4,000 senior managers with decision making tools based in community development, climate change, water, and demographic trends along with principles of transparency and corporate responsibility.
As General Mills’ key clients embraced sustainability, we provided strategic advice for their engagement with Wal-Mart and its sustainable value chain working groups. Our advice to integrate environmental sustainability, including both manufacturing and agriculture, together with new product formulations that provided superior nutrition and health benefits led to more than $180M in incremental sales.