The business – which owns brands including Cheerios, Annie's and Nature Valley – today (March 9) announced plans to source ingredients from 250,000 organic acres by 2019. Last year it sourced from 120,000 organic acres.
General Mills said it has increased the organic acreage it utilizes by 120% since 2009, putting it among the top five organic ingredient purchasers in the North American packaged food sector, and making it the second largest buyer of organic fruits and vegetables.
It also claims to be the third largest ‘natural and organic food maker’ in the US, and in the past 15 years has built up a portfolio of businesses including Cascadian Farm, Lärabar and Annie's. The most recent acquisition was ethical meat snack brand Epic Provisions in January.
Aiming to hit $1bn sales ahead of target
At the Consumer Analysts Group of New York conference last month, the company said it expects to reach $1bn in net sales from natural and organic products by 2019, a year ahead of its previous target.
"To achieve the growth we anticipate for our natural and organic brands, we will need a more robust pipeline of organic growers," said General Mills supply chain executive vice president John Church today.
"We're building strategic relationships directly with farmers for our products and are dedicated to working with growers to optimize production and quality, adopt standard practices and accelerate supply."
Supporting organic initiatives
General Mills supports the Organic Farming Research Foundation, which encourages adoption of organic farming practices in the US, and has invested $50,000 to support the Prairie Organic Grain Initiative in Canada. It is also a participating member of the Organic Trade Association's Grain, Pulse and Oilseed Council, an industry forum aiming to increase supply of organic grain, oilseeds and pulses.
In December, US flour milling and ingredients business Ardent Mills announced its Organic Initiative 2019, which it hopes will more than double the number of organic wheat acres in the country by 2019. The launch followed rising demand from food companies and restaurants for organic wheat flour, said the supplier.