A common bumper sticker in rural areas of the U.S. reads “No farms, no food.” Agriculture is indeed the root of our company and products. For 147 years, Campbell has worked closely with farmers to source high-quality ingredients for our nutritious and flavorful products.
In recent decades, the growth of the global middle class and overall global population has translated into unprecedented demand for agricultural products, placing increased pressure on land, water and agriculture inputs. It is material to our company to invest in the efficiency of agricultural supply chains to ensure their resilience in an often volatile global economy.
Agricultural science also indicates that, for most food products, the farm is where many significant environmental impacts are incurred. Often, crop irrigation is the largest contributor to a food product’s water footprint, and fertilizer production and use is the largest contributor to its GHG footprint. In 2016, a CR materiality assessment confirmed the importance of agriculture sustainability to Campbell, with a high percentage of stakeholders indicating its relevance. Large retail customers have also identified agriculture sustainability as being of critical importance to price and supply resiliency, as well as to meeting customer expectations.
Our Sustainable Agriculture Program encourages responsible and resilient agriculture systems to protect the long-term viability of the farms and ecosystems from which we source our ingredients. Responsible management of agricultural resources has been a hallmark of Campbell operations since our beginning. When our Sustainable Agriculture Program re-launched with a strategic emphasis in 2012, we were building upon more than 140 years of investment in agricultural research and farmer relationships.
Today, our Sustainable Agriculture Program is guided by a formal strategic plan centered on tomatoes and other iconic crops in the Campbell portfolio. We take a “measure to manage” approach, in which key agriculture metrics are identified and used to provide perspective to growers about their performance. While individual farmer information is kept private, we provide farmers with a snapshot of how their metrics compare to the average performance of other Campbell suppliers who grow the same crop in the region. The perspective helps them identify strengths and opportunities for their individual fields and farms. We expect the adoption of embedded technologies and “big data” analytics to accelerate these capabilities in the future.
This is a relatively new concept for sustainable agriculture programs, and one in which Campbell is a key voice. We have a leading role in such industry efforts as the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops and the Food, Beverage and Agriculture Sector Working Group of The Sustainability Consortium. Our program is also linked with Campbell Procurement and other industry-wide efforts regarding strategic ingredients such as poultry, beef, dairy and flour. In 2013, Campbell began working directly with these suppliers to communicate our strategic plan for synchronizing their sustainability efforts with our own.
Our sustainable agriculture strategy continues to focus on driving improvement in five priority areas — GHG emissions, water, fertilizer and pesticide reduction, and soil quality improvements — all of which were identified through a stakeholder engagement exercise in 2012. For three of these priorities, we have set 2020 goals:
- Climate: Reduce GHGs per pound of ingredient by 20 percent
- Water: Reduce water use per unit of ingredient by 20 percent
- Fertilizer: Reduce nitrogen applied per pound of ingredient by 10 percent
In addition, in August 2014, Campbell furthered its commitment to sustainable agriculture through its partnership with Walmart and announced an additional goal to reduce GHGs and water use by 20 percent per ton of food produced for its five key agricultural ingredients: tomatoes, carrots, celery, potatoes and jalapeños.