Minneapolis, MN—General Mills announced last week that it entered into a strategic sourcing partnership with Organic Valley, the largest U.S. organic cooperative. This partnership will help 20 dairy farms add 3,000 acres to organic dairy production over the next three years, building upon General Mills’ commitment to double its organic acreage by 2019.
In recent years, the company has become the number three maker of natural and organic foods, with nine brands, including EPIC Provisions and Annie’s. General Mills’ yogurt operating unit also includes Yoplait, Mountain High and Liberté, which will be transitioning to USDA certified organic to roll out nationwide in the summer.
“To ensure we are able to deliver great tasting organic yogurt offerings to our consumers we are committed to supporting a framework in partnership with Organic Valley that will not only ensure a consistent supply chain, but also make it easier for dairy farmers to successfully manage through the transition to organic,” said David Clark, president of the General Mills Yogurt Operating Unit in a press release. The partnership will help ease the burden on organic agriculture—which only accounts for 1% of total cropland—as farms transition conventional acreage to organic over the ensuing three years.
“We recognize that one of the biggest challenges to accelerating organic supply is enabling farmers to bridge the three-year period required to attain certified organic status under USDA rules. There is tremendous opportunity for Annie’s—with the scale of General Mills—to increase the organic ingredient supply needed to support the rising consumer interest in organic foods,” said John Foraker, president of Annie’s in a press release.
In addition, General Mills will launch the Organic & Regenerative Agriculture Transition Council to bring together sustainable agriculture leaders, farmers and industry stakeholders to advance organic and regenerative agricultural practices. Its first project will focus on dairy. As part of its commitment to sustainable sourcing, General Mills has pledged that 100% of its U.S. directly sourced fluid milk would be from producers demonstrating continuous improvement measured by the Dairy Sustainability Framework as well as comparable metrics globally by 2020.