General Mills has announced a strategic sourcing partnership with the largest organic cooperative in the US that will help 20 dairy farms add around 3,000 acres of organic dairy production over the next three years.
The programme, in collaboration with Wisconsin-based Organic Valley, will drive more acreage of US agricultural land into the organic certification process and builds upon General Mills’ commitment to double the amount of organic land from which it sources its 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 US, which includes brands like Yoplait, Annie’s, Liberté and Mountain High.
Earlier this year, General Mills introduced the Annie’s brand to the US yogurt category with a new line of certified organic whole milk yogurt. In addition, the company is transitioning its Liberté yogurt brand in the to USDA certified organic status, 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.
General Mills has made sizeable investments to meet growing consumer interest in natural and organic foods, it said, with the natural and organic foods segment expected to drive double-digit sales growth in the industry over the next five years.
But while demand for organic food is increasing, supply has not been able to keep up, with only 1% of all cropland being devoted to organic agriculture.
According to John Foraker, president of Annie’s, that disparity between supply and demand could be down to the convoluted process through which farms are accredited as organic.
Foraker said: “We recognise 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.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020