The companies – Diageo, General Mills, Hain Celestial, Hormel Foods, Kellogg, PepsiCo, and WhiteWave Foods – all submitted detailed sustainable sourcing and water stewardship plans and, in a year’s time, progress reports on their commitments will be issued.
Brooke Barton, Senior Director of the Water and Food Program at Ceres, said: “Major food brands can be a powerful and constructive force for scaling water stewardship, especially at the farm level where the biggest footprint is by far. These brands recognise the material financial impact that water risks pose to their business, from supply disruptions, to higher operating costs, to growth constraints. More than ever, companies are responding to these supply risks through farmer incentives, local partnerships and bottom line reductions.”
Commitments by Challenge participants include:
Roberta Barbieri, Vice President, Global Environmental and Water Solutions, PepsiCo, commented: “We are proud of our decades-long water stewardship efforts as part of our sustainable business agenda called Performance with Purpose. Expanding our water goals to include PepsiCo’s agricultural supply chain is a key part of our Positive Water Impact strategy, designed to enable long-term sustainable water security for our food and beverage business and others who depend on water availability.”
In addition to new commitments, the AgWater Challenge recognises companies with far-reaching, ongoing commitments. Diageo, General Mills, and Kellogg were recognized as AgWater Stewards for showing action across all five categories of the groups’ AgWater Challenge checklist – from water risk assessments and setting reduction goals, to reducing water risk in agricultural supply chains and supporting producers in addressing these issues.
Jerry Lynch, Chief Sustainability Officer at General Mills, said: “The footprint of our extended value chain goes well beyond our offices and facilities. A very large portion of that footprint is in agriculture. The challenges facing our company and our planet are more pressing than ever, so we have to build resiliency in our supply chains to ensure that we can continue to serve the world by making food people love. Our ambition through the AgWater Challenge and all of our water initiatives is to lead by example and we hope to encourage others to do the same.”
In 2017, Ceres will evaluate the companies’ adherence to their commitments through the release its second “Feeding Ourselves Thirsty” report, which benchmarks global food and beverage companies on their water management practices. All of the AgWater Stewards will be benchmarked in the report, along with several dozen additional companies.
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