General Mills has announced a sourcing partnership with Organic Valley, the largest organic farmer-owned cooperative in the world. The partnership will substantially increase organic dairy production and availability for General Mills, the U.S.-based parent company to more than 90 major food brands including Cheerios, Yoplait, and Pillsbury.
According to a General Mills press release, around 3,000 acres will be added to organic dairy production within the next three years as a result of the partnership. This will facilitate organic transitions and continued organic production for General Mills’ yogurt lines Yoplait, Annie’s, and Liberté.
"To ensure we are able to deliver great tasting organic yogurt offerings to our consumers we are committed to supporting a framework in partnership with Organic Valley that will not only ensure a consistent supply chain, but also make it easier for dairy farmers to successfully manage through the transition to organic," said David Clark, president of the General Mills Yogurt Operating Unit.
The rapidly growing organic industry has faced difficulties in keeping up with demand in recent years, as the transition time for organic farmers can be lengthy and costly. This partnership between General Mills and Organic Valley should help about 20 organic dairy farms, and increase the amount of organic dairy available on the market.
"We recognize that one of the biggest challenges to accelerating organic supply is enabling farmers to bridge the three-year period required to attain certified organic status under USDA rules," said John Foraker, president of Annie's, a subsidiary of General Mills. "There is tremendous opportunity for Annie's — with the scale of General Mills — to increase the organic ingredient supply needed to support the rising consumer interest in organic foods."
The partnership builds upon the commitment General Mills made in March to double its organic acreage by 2019, a goal that will help the company reach its objective of $1 billion in net sales from organic and natural products by the 2019 deadline. The company is now the third largest producer of natural and organic foods, with a current total revenue of $675 million net from organic products.
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