News Releases

Apr 14, 2010

General Mills 2010 Corporate Social Responsibility Report Now Available


Highlights progress in areas of health, community and environment


General Mills’ 2010 Corporate Social Responsibility report highlights new and long-standing achievements in the areas of health, community and environment. The report is available for download at

The new report highlights:

- Improvements of nearly 50 percent in the nutrition profile of its products since 2005.

- Contributions of nearly $91 million in philanthropic giving -- up 4.3 percent over fiscal 2008. 

- New and innovative ways the company is trimming waste and reducing its environmental footprint.

“To truly live our mission of Nourishing Lives, we must go far beyond achieving financial success,” said Ken Powell, chairman, chief executive officer, General Mills. “It includes Nourishing Communities around the world by volunteering and giving to worthwhile causes, and Nourishing the Future by helping to preserve and protect the environment for generations to come.”

This is the 40th year the company has published the report, which has promoted various aspects over the years. The 2010 CSR report is divided into three sections: health, community and environment, and includes several videos inserted throughout the electronic document. The following is a brief overview of what’s inside the report.

Health Improvements
General Mills has improved the nutrition profile by nearly 50 percent of its product portfolio through the health metric initiative launched in 2005. Its biggest gains have been through adding whole grains to products such as cereal, although focus has also been placed on adding vitamins, fiber and calcium, as well as reducing fat, sodium and sugar.

“Our organization is fully committed to improving the nutritional profile of our broad range of products,” said Peter Erickson, senior vice president, Innovation, Technology and Quality at General Mills. “Each time we touch a product – new or existing – we think about what big or small steps can be made. The progress indicated by our health metrics is a reflection of our success to date.”

The company has been reducing sodium in its products for years, but it announced in the 2010 CSR report that it will accelerate its sodium reduction strategy to target an average 20 percent sodium reduction in 600 SKUs (stock-keeping units) by 2015. Last December, the company also announced a commitment to reduce the sugar in its cereals advertised to kids to single-digit levels of grams per serving.
The report also explains that the company’s Big G cereals deliver almost 35 million whole grain servings per day – a 40 percent increase in Big G’s whole grain serving contribution from 2005.

Community Commitments
General Mills operates in more than 100 countries around the world and is committed to Nourishing Communities. General Mills’ giving increased to nearly $91 million – up 4.3 percent over fiscal 2008. Since 2000, General Mills has contributed about 5 percent of its pretax profits to a wide variety of causes.

The largest share of these contributions -- $53.6 million in fiscal 2009 -- is from what the company calls “brand philanthropy” – programs directly linked to its businesses, such as Box Tops for Education, which raises money for K-8 education, and Yoplait Save Lids to Save Lives, which raises money for breast cancer research and education.

General Mills’ philanthropic efforts in Africa also continue to expand. More than 5,000 people became members since last fall’s launch of Join My Village, General Mills’ online initiative to help empower women and girls in 75 villages in Malawi. Women and girls grow and prepare most of the food in the region.

“We’re lending our technical expertise, too. Over the past two years, more than 300 General Mills researchers and scientists have logged more than 20,000 volunteer hours to help solve technical issues at several African food-processing facilities,” said Chris Shea, senior vice president of General Mills, and president of the General Mills Foundation.

Closer to home, General Mills has received praise for its workplace culture. The company was named one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” by Fortune magazine as well as ranked No. 3 by the magazine for “Global Top Companies for Leaders.”

Environmental Performance
The company is making progress on its five-year goals to reduce its environmental impact. The solid waste generation rate was reduced by 24.5 percent since 2005 – far surpassing our goal of 15 percent. Water usage was reduced by 2.2 percent since 2005, which is nearly halfway to achieving a 5 percent reduction by 2011. Progress on reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emission rates has been 2.4 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively. The company expects the systems now in place to produce greater reductions in the future.

Leftover oat hulls from making Cheerios are being used to fuel a power plant near Minneapolis that has the capacity to generate enough electricity to power 30,000 homes. Soon oat hulls will also be used to generate electricity for the company’s mill in Fridley, Minn.

Betty Crocker Warm Delights desserts now feature new bowls that contain 40 percent less plastic, perform better in the microwave and cost less to make. It’s an additional example of measures taken by General Mills that have helped reduce its solid waste generation rate by 24.5 percent since 2005, far surpassing its goal of 15 percent.

General Mills’ San Adrian facility in Spain switched to an electricity provider that uses only natural and renewable sources such as wind power. The move saves $175,000 per year in costs and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by more than 6,000 tons. The San Adrian plant now gets 100 percent of its electricity – and a third of its energy overall – from renewable sources.

“We recognize that we face many challenges ahead, and are working to develop and extend a new set of environmental goals. But we sincerely believe that we can ‘do well’ for our shareholders, while continuing to ‘do good’ for our customers, our communities and our planet,” said Powell.

Recent Recognition
General Mills has received many honors recognizing the company’s strong commitment to corporate responsibility, including: Newsweek ranks General Mills as one of the “100 Greenest Companies in America”; Corporate Responsibility magazine’s “100 Best Corporate Citizens” ranked the company in the top 10; and for the third year in a row, Ethisphere Institute listed the company as one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies.” Fortune magazine also included General Mills in its list of the top 50 “World’s Most Admired” companies for two years running.

About General Mills
One of the world's leading food companies, General Mills operates in more than 100 countries and markets more than 100 consumer brands, including Cheerios, Häagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Progresso, Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, and more. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, General Mills had fiscal 2009 global net sales of US$15.9 billion, including the company’s $1.2 billion proportionate share of joint venture net sales.

Heidi Geller
General Mills