The manufacturer behind brands such as Betty Crocker, Cheerios and Pillsbury says it’s now sustainably sourcing nearly 70% of its top 10 priority ingredients. General Mills aims for 100% sustainable sourcing of ingredients such as U.S. dry-milled corn, wheat and dairy by 2020.

"As a global food company, we depend on nature to help us make the food people love," says Jerry Lynch, the company’s chief sustainability officer, in a news release. "So it's vital that we continue to make steady progress toward our ambitious sourcing, climate and water commitments.”

For row crops, sustainable sourcing means the company is purchasing ingredients grown on farm operations that have committed to continuous improvement standards for soil, water and air. The operations are following the framework developed by Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Field to Market or similar metrics. 

In fiscal year 2016, General Mills says it sustainably sourced 69% of those top ingredients overall, including: 

  • 68% of its U.S. sugar beets, up 21 percentage points from a year ago 
  • 36% of its U.S. wheat, up 12 percentage points from a year ago
  • 33% of its U.S. dry-milled corn, up 7 percentage points from a year ago

Meanwhile it is sourcing 38% of its U.S. dairy sustainably, up 18 percentage points from a year ago, according to metrics defined by the Stewardship & Sustainability Framework for U.S. Dairy, a product of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and related stakeholders. 

Other sustainability achievements General Mills notes for the past year include:

  • Publication of ReThink Soil: A Roadmap to Soil Health in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. The roadmap says it could boost farmers’ annual net economic gains by at least $1.2 billion through soil improvements, better nutrient management and more. 
  • Initial phase of development for watershed stewardship plans throughout its value chain.
  • Goal of cutting water use by 1% annually, normalized to production, at all of its production facilities.
  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in activities such as shipping and selling.
  • Participation in $4 million commitment over five years to boost and safeguard pollinator habitats.

Learn more in the Global Responsibility 2017 report from General Mills.