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News for Food Industry Leaders | April 10, 2012

Special Report: Striving for a greener Earth, Part 1
April 22 is Earth Day. It is one day where we come together to think about the health of our planet and what we can do to make it greener. As more consumers and food firms recognize the need to be green for the sake of future generations -- and see the cost benefits -- companies are taking the idea of Earth Day and applying it to the everyday by expanding their use of sustainable materials and conserving our natural resources.

Food companies and grocers are helping to keep our planet green by investing in recycling programs, creating green initiatives to engage their customers and setting long-term sustainability goals.

Part I of this FMI dailyLead Special Report, below, includes a Q-and-A with Bob Branham, director of customer sustainability at General Mills. Part II, to be published on Thursday, will feature examples of Earth Day efforts and sustainable best practices that can be put to use all year.

If you don't receive FMI dailyLead daily and find our report on "Striving for a greener Earth" useful, sign up for this timely e-newsletter. FMI dailyLead delivers the day's top food news directly to your inbox -- for FREE.
Pass it on. Cans are America's most recycled packaging. Go to to download our 2011 sustainability report.
  FMI Resources 
  • Fast Facts from FMI: More than 80 billion pounds
    That's the amount of food waste sent to landfills in the U.S. The food industry supports opportunities to reduce waste, such as feeding the hungry, feeding animals, generating clean energy and producing compost. In an effort to address challenging questions on sustainability and the supply chain, food retailers are working with their manufacturer partners on efforts, such as the Joint Industry Unsaleables Management Conference, and a three-year, cross-industry effort that addresses roles along the supply chain, including but not limited to, manufacturing, retail grocery, restaurant, distribution and on-premise dining. To learn more about FMI's sustainability initiatives, visit or contact Jeanne Von Zastrow at Email this Story
 Download Our Free Sustainability Report.
Download “Passing On a Better World: 2011 Can Manufacturing Sustainability Report” to see what package holds the “most recycled” title in America. Like what you see? Pass it on. Sustainability is a goal we all share. Go to to download your report.

  Industry Insight 
  • Earth Day and beyond: Sustainability efforts in the industry

    Bob Branham has worked at General Mills for 28 years, but only took on his role as customer sustainability director two years ago. "We created the position because our retailers continue to be more engaged in the space and we are as well, so there's always a conversation about collaboration potential and shared best practices," he says. Here, he explains some of the company's sustainability efforts, both for Earth Day and for every day. Read the entire Q-and-A at SmartBlog on Food & Beverage.

    What do you see as your customers' biggest sustainability concerns and how is your company addressing them?

    The opportunities in sustainability are extraordinarily broad and include sustainable sourcing, where and how we're getting commodities. I think our retailers share all the same concerns, from way upstream on the sustainability value chain to all the way downstream, to food waste and waste management overall, including packaging. We talk about the overall awareness of the social and environmental impact we have, of disposing of 30% to 40% of what we process. We spend a lot of time talking about food waste mitigation. At General Mills specifically, we have several publicly stated goals on waste reduction and how we create less waste in the first place. We've also set goals on energy, gas and water usage. Water is a critical component, water quality and availability and water as a commodity is incredibly important to the work we do. But we also have a packaging goal and a transportation goal. We try to establish ourselves as a company that's working between our four walls to be a better steward of the planet. So when we're out talking to people, we have reached a level of credibility, we can say, "We haven't reached all our goals and you haven't either, so let's talk about how we can do them better together."

    What are the next sustainability challenges and how is the industry -- and General Mills -- preparing to tackle them?

    The big one right now that's at the top of my list and the industry's is food waste mitigation and landfill avoidance. As an industry, we need to find better uses for food scraps. We landfill or incinerate far too much of the food we have grown and processed. The environmental impact we have on the front end, including the water and energy that went into making the product, and the land use, only to turn around and have it go to waste, is staggering. And we have 50 million Americans who have food insecurity, so we need to find a way to use more of that stuff that's broadly classified as food waste. I would call that the next big thing. At the same time, the other issues I've touched on are ongoing, including packaging improvements and better water management, using less water in packaging and growing crops we use. More farmers are moving to drip irrigation, and we're working on making sure we have a better handle on ethical sourcing. It's about understanding not only where the cocoa comes from but how we can help the grower have a greater economic impact from growing. We want to be smart about it.

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  Earth Day In The News 
  • Earth Day contest by Safeway encourages sustainability
    A Safeway contest challenges students to study local-food sustainability. The Go Green Glogster Earth Day contest, in partnership with the Go Green Initiative, asks students to produce podcasts, music, videos or photos to report their findings. The winning school will get an organic garden from Safeway, plus cash prizes. Supermarket News (4/4) Email this Story
  • Artist to create giant Earth Day salad
    Performance artist Alison Knowles will chop masses of vegetables and create a salad to a Mozart beat, serving the results to hungry New Yorkers in honor of Earth Day. Knowles first performed her piece, "Make a Salad," in Baltimore in 1962. The Daily Meal (3/21) Email this Story

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