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General Mills to Accelerate Push to Double Organic Acreage Sourcing

The company now expects to reach 250,000 organic acres by 2019 instead of 2020, and indeed, also expects to reach net sales of $1 billion within the same timeline, according to General Mills executive vice president and COO for U.S. retail, Jeff Harmening.

As consumer demand for organic ingredients and foods strengthens, General Mills has steadily increased its investment into the organic acreage it supports, increasing the amount 120% since 2009, to become the second biggest buyer of organic fruits and vegetables in the packaged food sector in North America.

"We're building strategic relationships directly with farmers for our products and are dedicated to working with growers to optimize production and quality, adopt standard practices and accelerate supply," said John Church, executive vice president, General Mills Supply Chain.

The organic and natural food segment is expected to see sales growth in the double digits over the next five years. Understanding this, since 2000, General Mills has made a series of investments to build a portfolio of natural and organic brands with a total value of $675 million, including Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, Mountain High, Food Should Taste Good, Liberté, Annie’s, and Immaculate Baking, making the company the third largest natural and organic food company in the U.S. But despite these investments, or because of them, Church noted in a company statement, "To achieve the growth we anticipate for our natural and organic brands, we will need a more robust pipeline of organic growers."

To achieve this, the company is deeply involved in industry efforts to expand the organic sector. In Canada, to expand the quality and quantity of organic field crops, particularly grain, General Mills has invested $50,000 in the Prairie Organic Grain Initiative (POGI). The company is also part of the Organic Trade Association's Grain, Pulse and Oilseed Council, which works to increase the supply of these crops.

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