Ryan Sirolli, Cargill’s Global Row Crop Sustainability Director, explained why sustainability is one of the major trends impacting the food industry. “Companies like McDonalds, MARS, Pepsico, General Mills, and Unilever have made commitments to achieve carbon intensity reductions in their supply chain from 20% to 50%.”
Cargill is consistently working to achieve GHG reductions within operations through improvements in equipment efficiency and updates as well as changing energy sources such as wind power and natural gas. However, while Cargill will continue to focus on its own operations, there are significantly larger opportunities to reduce GHG emissions, “Within our own supply chain, one of the largest areas of opportunity to achieve these goals is within crop production.” According to Sirolli, Cargill is in the process of rebuilding its sustainability model to show value for all of their enterprises.
“We see farmers investing in these improvements, but we need to fully quantify the impact and make the focus ‘farmer centric’”. Sirolli stated farmers understand issues of soil health. Improving soil health is recognized to have long term benefits for farmers in regards to productivity and economics while delivering positive environmental benefits of reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improvements in water quality and greater water use efficiency that many downstream customers and consumers are looking for. There are often ‘up front’ costs to adoption of these beneficial practices, however. “Our goal would be to move from a transactional process to a system of support that achieves long-term gains.” Support could include agronomic and financial support to implement soil health practices and decision making.
While Cargill is in its initial stages of developing a new strategy, they intend for their approach to show benefit (and value) for growers and their customers. “The opportunity is to demonstrate mutual value and partner with our customers to support farmers along the way,” said Sirolli.