Sourcing from people and places that we trust is key to making quality organic and natural products. Annie’s mission is to “cultivate a healthier and happier world by spreading goodness through nourishing foods, honest words, and conduct that is considerate and forever kind to the planet.” As a mission-driven brand, Annie’s wants not only to ensure that we are advancing our industry and our supply chain to be more efficient, but also to look for opportunities to support a more circular economy – where regeneration is the goal, driving a shift toward renewable energy, eliminating toxic chemicals and avoiding waste throughout our supply chain. For this reason we established our sustainable manufacturing program, a key component of our focus on supply chain, which also includes sustainability-driven programs on ingredients and packaging. Through this work, we seek to instill practices that contribute to a more sustainable food system. Our sustainable manufacturing strategy is a holistic, yet focused platform consisting of a minimum standard as well as other environmental programs that extend the reach of our mission and values.
What we require of all manufacturing suppliers
Our minimum standard is to require our manufacturing partners to sign our Supplier Code of Conduct for Manufactured Goods. The Code ensures our suppliers meet our basic expectations in terms of labor and human rights, health and safety, environmental protection, and ethics, based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions. Over 90% of our manufacturers have signed the Code. In 2014, we began to perform audits against it, which have not surfaced any significant non-compliance issues, but rather have verified that our partners are providing ethical and safe workplaces for their employees, and are oftentimes considered one of the best employers in their communities.
Tracking our environmental footprint
Affecting the environmental and social performance of the facilities that manufacture our products is a key part of our focus on the supply chain. Our program focuses on suppliers who manufacture key products for Annie’s, including mac and cheese, fruit snacks, cookies, and crackers, to name a few. To understand our suppliers’ environmental impacts, we follow the adage that you can’t manage what you don’t measure, so we measure key manufacturing facilities’ environmental performance in two ways: we track numeric data on energy, water and waste, and we conduct a multiple-choice survey covering six categories: GHG emissions, energy, water use, priority chemicals, waste, and organizational commitment. Annie’s Supplier Practices Survey is simple yet quantifiable, so suppliers receive progress scores, information to help benchmark against others who have been surveyed, and in turn, we receive context to the numbers they input into the quantitative data tracking tool, and an understanding around who is leading and who is lagging among the facilities that produce goods for our brand. 79% of our manufacturing suppliers, on average, responded to our survey in FY2015, and we are proud of this high level of engagement. We recognize one supplier per year who exhibits industry-leading environmental performance with our Green Bernie award. Bernie was our founder’s pet rabbit and is our symbol of goodness that appears on all of our products. Consideration for the award is based on:
- Submitting comprehensive energy, waste, and water data for at least two consecutive years;
- Demonstrating flat or ideally decreasing energy intensity per pound of product;
- Scoring in the top 5 in our Supplier Practices Survey.
Where we’re going
We want to not only ensure high social and environmental standards among facilities that are manufacturing Annie’s products, but also to grow the program and deepen our engagement around sustainable manufacturing through such activities as developing renewable energy and reducing waste, energy, and water intensity at our manufacturing sites. This year we included non-scored questions on our Supplier Practices survey to identify what facilities might be ripe for collaboration in these areas. Now, as a part of General Mills, we are working through how we can achieve these goals, and what percentage of our partners is realistic to target. General Mills has industry-leading expertise in energy programs, and a public goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 28% by 2025. By expanding and deepening our sustainable manufacturing programs, we have a great opportunity to grow our might and the reach of Annie’s mission and values, while supporting our parent company’s environmental and social targets.