Regenerative Agriculture: Purchased Startup Influences General Mills Perspective

Kristen Leigh Painter reported recently at the Minneapolis Star Tribune Online that, “General Mills became a food giant by pioneering ideas to get people in and out of the kitchen more quickly. Now, it has moved to the front lines of an agricultural movement it didn’t start.

A series of investments in recent months for its growing portfolio of natural and organic products has been aimed at fortifying the land where its food is grown.

“And those moves, which roped General Mills into a growing movement called regenerative agriculture, show the influence a small startup can have on its larger parent company. General Mills awakened to the movement when it purchased Epic Provisions, a meat-snack producer, in 2016.”

Ms. Painter noted that, “Best known for its traditional packaged foods, like Cheerios cereals, Betty Crocker mixes and Progresso soup, General Mills has substantially expanded its reach in natural, organic and Earth-friendly grocery products over the past decade. It’s a top-five organic-ingredient purchaser and the second-largest buyer of organic fruits and vegetables in North American packaged food.

“One of the main challenges to growth is the dearth of food ingredients grown in a way that meet the social and environmental promises of those brands and the expectations of their consumers.

“To address this dilemma, the Golden Valley-based food company revisited how it sources ingredients. By working with farmers, company executives believe they can help change the growing practices in such a way that increase biodiversity, improved water quality and reduced greenhouse-gas emissions and use of harmful chemicals.”

The Star Tribune article added that, “Regenerative agriculture is one big button the company can push to help it reach its own environmental goals, [John Church, executive vice president and head of supply chain at General Mills] said, such as reversing the negative impact that agriculture has on climate change.”

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