General Mills last week announced a strategic sourcing partnership with the largest organic cooperative in the U.S. that will help about 20 dairy farms add around 3,000 acres to organic dairy production over the next three years.
The program with Wisconsin-based Organic Valley will drive more acres in the U.S. into the organic certification process and builds upon General Mills’ commitment to double the organic acreage from which it sources ingredients by 2019.
The strategic alignment with Organic Valley will build General Mills’ relationships with the organic farmers who will be supporting its yogurt operating unit in the U.S., which includes brands like Yoplait, Annie’s, Liberté and Mountain High.
Earlier this year, General Mills introduced the Annie’s brand to the U.S. yogurt category with a new line of certified organic whole milk yogurt. In addition, the company is transitioning its Liberté yogurt brand in the U.S. to USDA certified organic, which will roll out nationwide this summer.
“To ensure we are able to deliver great tasting organic yogurt offerings to our consumers, we are committed to supporting a framework in partnership with Organic Valley that will not only ensure a consistent supply chain, but also make it easier for dairy farmers to successfully manage through the transition to organic,” said David Clark, president of the General Mills Yogurt Operating Unit.
“We recognize that one of the biggest challenges to accelerating organic supply is enabling farmers to bridge the three-year period required to attain certified organic status under USDA rules. There is tremendous opportunity for Annie’s—with the scale of General Mills—to increase the organic ingredient supply needed to support the rising consumer interest in organic foods,” said John Foraker, president of Annie’s.
Since 2009, General Mills says it has increased the organic acreage it supports by 120 percent and is now among the top five organic ingredient purchasers—and the second largest buyer of organic fruits and vegetables—in the North American packaged food sector.
In addition, General Mills will launch the Organic & Regenerative Agriculture Transition Council, which will bring together sustainable agricultural leaders, farmers and industry stakeholders with the mission of advancing organic and regenerative agriculture practices. The first project will focus on dairy.