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Mondelēz expands sustainable wheat program to cover 100% of European biscuits by 2022

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Mondelēz International is upping the ante to source 100% sustainable wheat for its European biscuit production by 2022. Pic: Mondelēz
Mondelēz International is upping the ante to source 100% sustainable wheat for its European biscuit production by 2022. Pic: Mondelēz

Related tags Mondelez Biscuits Wheat Sustainability European union Belvita breakfast biscuits Oreo

The Oreo maker has announced it is expanding its Harmony program to ensure that its entire European biscuit production will be made from sustainable wheat within the next five years.

Currently, 60% of the global snack company’s biscuit production in the EU contains wheat sourced under the initiative.

Last year, the company sourced 177,000 tons of sustainable flour from the Harmony program to produce brands like Lu, the market leader in France, Oro (Italy), Fontaneda (Spain) and LiGA (the Netherlands).

The new pledge would take that procurement to more than 280,000 tons by 2022, to cover the volume of wheat needed for “all the brands that we produce and commercialize in Europe, including belVita, Milka Biscuits, Barni and even Oreo,”​ Romeo Lacerda, president, Biscuits, Mondelēz Europe, told BakeryandSnacks.

Discerning consumer

Today’s consumer expects manufacturers to take their share of responsibility in protecting the environment.

“There is a clear concern from consumers these days about sustainability and they expect that companies like Mondelēz takes its responsibility in this process,”​ said Lacerda.

“We are driving the program to assure consumers that our products are not only tasty and of high quality, but that we are also serious about helping the environment and diversity in the process.”

Harmony is just one of Mondelēz’s cluster of efforts to adopt earth-friendly practices. Establishing sustainability in cocoa production, improving water conservation and tackling packaging waste are also part of the world’s largest snack company's strategy to improve the environment.

According to Lacerda, Harmony, though, is much more than an agreed set of sustainable wheat farming practices.

“Harmony is our sustainable sourcing program for Europe. It’s a movement that connects everyone involved in our supply chain with others seeking to increase the positive impact we can make on our environment and biodiversity. By bringing NGOs and farmers to work together, we can implement farming practices that are both effective and pragmatic. In doing so, we can act as a catalyst for positive change,”​ he added.

Inspire and create purpose

Launched 10 years ago in France, Harmony was created by 200 company volunteers involved with the Lu biscuit brand who were asked to imagine projects to “inspire and create purpose and meaning for our employees, stakeholders and consumers.

“Wheat is the main ingredient in our biscuit, so we created a better wheat culture for our biscuits, the Harmony charter,”​ said the company.

The initiative’s charter was then developed with the help of NGOs, agronomists, environmental specialists and research organizations.

As wheat farming is not the company’s core competency, “we needed other partners to join us in this journey to sustainably source our wheat. This includes other key players across the value chain.

“We are not only driving the program from within Mondelēz, but work with others to make the program richer and enhance the charter we have for Harmony,” ​said Lacerda.

Today, the program involves 1,700 farmers, 13 millers and 21 cooperatives across six markets, including Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Poland and Spain.

Under the new pledge, the program will be extended to include farmers in countries where Mondelēz currently does not have a presence or a strong presence, like Poland.

“We will move from being western European centric to being present across the European Union,”​ said Lacerda.

Francesco Tramontin, Mondelēz’s sustainability lead for Europe, added the scale of this kind of company-owned program, done in partnership with others, is unique.

“It’s a sizable part of our business,” ​he said, noting the company – the largest biscuit producer in the EU – currnetly buys around 75% of the soft wheat used in its European production from contract from farmers.

“I think it's very important that our industry and big buyers like us play a role in building transparency and fairness and we are very proud to be able to partner with farmers and reward their good practices,”​ he said.

Harmony Charter

Butterfly on HY flower 4

Under the Harmony Charter, farmers are committed to using 50 advanced agricultural practices set out by the company, including:

  • Minimizing the usage of pesticides and fertilizers by encouraging the selection of resilient wheat varieties and through crop rotation and care for soil
  • Avoid unnecessary treatments
  • Reduce carbon emissions, especially through the reduction of fertilizer use
  • Preserving the quality of water
  • Encouraging local biodiversity by setting aside 3% of their land for the cultivation of plants known to attract bees and butterflies.

According to French Ministry of Agriculture, the TFI (Treatment Frequency Index) the 2009-2016 Harmony campaigns have led to a 20% reduction in pesticide use in Harmony fields compared with the national average for wheat.

Harmony farmers have also sown 1,026 hectares of flowers around Harmony fields and close to 17 million bees and over 30 species of butterflies have been observed.

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