Cargill puts priority on food security, sustainability

by Eric Schroeder
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Cargill
As part of its sustainability goal, Cargill in 2015 identified four focus areas where it plans to use its expertise and scale to have the greatest impact.
 
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, U.S. — For Cargill, a key goal is to be the most trusted source of sustainable products and services for its customers. To do that, the company is joining with others to build a food system that meets the needs of today while providing for the needs of tomorrow.

 

Cargill Ruth Kimmelshue
Ruth Kimmelshue, corporate senior vice-president of operations at Cargill.

“As we look to the future, we are committed to creating practical and scalable solutions,” Ruth Kimmelshue, corporate senior vice-president of operations at Cargill, said in “Envisioning Tomorrow,” the company’s 2016 annual report published Aug. 16. “This will involve tradeoffs, and we need to be mindful of decisions that we make today and how those decisions and actions will impact tomorrow. We still need to meet the needs of the present, which includes improving livelihoods for the hundreds of millions of people involved in agriculture around the world. But we must do this without compromising our collective ability to nourish future generations.”

Kimmelshue said Cargill can’t achieve its goals alone. The company needs trust-based partnerships across the supply chain with suppliers, customers, governments, civil society, other companies, consumers and farmers.

“I stress ‘trust’ because it will require all of us to work together in good faith, believing that everyone has the same goal, which is to nourish the world’s people while protecting the planet,” Kimmelshue said.

As part of its sustainability goal, Cargill in 2015 identified four focus areas where it plans to use its expertise and scale to have the greatest impact: land use; water resources; climate change; and farmer livelihoods. In the 2016 annual report, the company provided an update on its progress against the four priorities.

In land use, Cargill said it has published a global forest policy and detailed action plans as a next step toward eliminating deforestation from its supply chains by 2030. Additionally, the company achieved its goal of full traceability to the mill for palm oil in key markets.

Regarding water resources, Cargill set a 2020 target to improve freshwater efficiency by 5% against a fiscal 2015 baseline, achieving a 1.5% improvement this past year. The company also said it realized approximately $200,000 in freshwater efficiency savings.

Cargill said it made big strides in its third focus area: climate change. The company avoided 1.2 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, and also set a 2020 target to improve greenhouse gas intensity by 5% against a fiscal 2015 baseline, achieving a 2.2% improvement this past year.

Finally, Cargill highlighted three areas of progress within farmer livelihoods. The company said it trained more than 500 farmers during fiscal 2016 to improve conservation, productivity and animal husbandry, and also teamed up with CARE over the past two years to help more than 19,000 smallholder farmers in eight countries access agricultural training and reach new markets. The company also partnered with TechnoServe to provide Nicaraguan farmers with high-yielding hybrid seeds and improved techniques that will reduce their costs by up to 30%.

 “We’re making strides to create a culture among farmers of improving agricultural practices,” said Juan Pane, sustainability lead for Cargill’s agricultural supply chain in Paraguay. “But any practice we advocate has to take farmers’ livelihoods into account. This is why, for example, we source multiple crops from the region. We want to encourage crop rotation that is vital to soil health and put a business incentive behind it.”

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