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Building an Era of Eco-Friendly Food Production Process

By Diane B Holdorf, Chief Sustainability Officer, Kellogg Company

Diane B Holdorf, Chief Sustainability Officer, Kellogg Company

In the light of your experience as Chief Sustainability Officer and VP at Kellogg Company what are the technological trends and challenges you’ve witnessed that are impacting your role?

At Kellogg, we strive to make food people love. And today, that means more than food that tastes great. People care about where their food comes from, the people who grow and make it, and that there’s enough for everyone. We believe in great tasting food you can feel good about, too. And so, we must live our values and communicate with transparency to earn our seat at millions of tables every day.

"Kellogg is committed to renewable electricity as strategy to achieve our greenhouse gas reduction targets"

We’re committed to protecting our land, air, and water. We do so by minimizing the use of natural resources while making our foods. During our initial sustainability commitments, we reduced waste to landfill, GHG emissions, energy and water use 62 percent, 11 percent, 6 percent and 7 percent (per metric ton of food) respectively between 2005 and 2015 in our own plants. In 2015 and 2016, we committed to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy and water use. And to drive focus on food loss and waste, we expanded our waste commitment to include total waste. To exceed these commitments, we need technological advances, especially among renewable electricity generation technologies, like solar panels and battery storage, smart metering, and measurement systems.

We require these technological advances within our own operations and partners. For example, in our own operations, we have invested in low-carbon technologies, including biomass boilers in India and natural gas fuel cells to generate our own electricity in the United States. Additionally, we have partnered with local utility companies to purchase green power from the grid, increasing our use of renewable electricity to from nearly zero to 20 percent of our global usage in 2017. Kellogg is committed to renewable electricity as strategy to achieve our greenhouse gas reduction targets and increase accessibility to renewable electricity for all utility customers.

Data acquisition is both a trend and challenge for companies, like Kellogg, working to increase operational efficiency. We’re always improving the IT platforms that help us track, report, and reduce fuel, electricity, and water use, along with variety waste streams generated within our operations. Sophisticated IT platforms help to track usage at a discreet level. This type of line-by-line tracking helps us identify inefficiencies in our operations and scale up those practices that conserve these valuable resources. Data also helps us quantify the cost savings from operational efficiencies. For example, we’ve delivered $28MM in global cost savings through our energy and water reductions since 2005.

Could you talk about your approach to identify the right partnership/ solutions provider from the lot? What is your approach on evaluating potential partnerships from an environmental impact perspective? “Kellogg and TechnoServe Partner for Sustainable Agriculture.” Could you give us more insights about this recent partnership?

As a global food company, we’re committed to addressing the critical issues of climate & food security. And we’re helping to tackle the interconnected issues of hunger and robust food systems around the world. We’re dependent on high quality ingredients, and we know that our consumers really care about where their food comes from. We want to ensure that there is end-to-end value across our entire supply chain.

We’re focused on improving farmer livelihoods and working with farmers to identify the right climate-smart agricultural practices, all while ensuring that the ingredients meet the quality requirements for our great tasting foods. In our approach to identifying partners, we seek to understand the specific opportunities at the farm level as well as the social needs for the farming families and communities from which we source.

Partners like Technoserve are really important in helping us address our goals. Technoserve is uniquely focused on harnessing the power of the private sector to help vulnerable farming families lift themselves out of poverty. By linking people to information, capital, and markets, TechnoServe has helped millions of enterprising men and women in 29 countries across the developing world build competitive farms, businesses, and industries and create lasting prosperity for their families and communities.

Let me share with you an example of how we do that:

In Madhya Pradesh, India, Kellogg is working with TechnoServe to provide water and climate smart agricultural training practices to Farmer Producer Companies. By June of 2018, we will have delivered training and support to 12,750 small farmers, 35 percent of which are women. This training is increasing their yields by improving farming practices such as nutrient management, pest management and post-harvest storage management.

What would be a piece of advice that you could impart to a CSO who looks to embark on a similar venture along the lines of your service and solutions.

Along the journey of work we’ve developed within Kellogg, what I’ve learned is that the work of a Chief Sustainability Officer must be truly integrated into the commercial growth strategies of the business. This role is designed to deliver on the types of commitments and progress that are expected of a global company like ours. And as I look forward to where the trends are taking businesses, particularly consumer facing businesses like Kellogg, a CSO must also deliver direct value for our brands, for our customers, and to our consumers.