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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.


As a business with a value chain that begins on the farm, we are acutely aware of the potential risks to the food system posed by climate change. Weather pattern changes over time can have a direct impact on many of our agricultural producers, which in turn, could significantly impact agricultural inputs to our product portfolio. Our climate strategy is integrated with our overall sustainable business strategy and encompasses sustainable agriculture, procurement, supplier engagement, performance reporting and reducing our carbon footprint.

Fertilizer Optimization and GHG Emissions Reduction

The production and use of nitrogen fertilizer is the largest contributor to GHG emissions from farming practices. Best practices and improvements in the efficiency of nitrogen fertilizer use are crucial to achieving our GHG reduction goal. In tomatoes, our year-on-year data shows that nitrogen use efficiency is increasing with the adoption of best practices and technologies. Drip irrigation technology is part of the solution. At the University of California, Davis, Russell Ranch facility, scientists documented a more than 50 percent reduction per acre of the key GHG associated with fertilizer — nitrogen oxide — when drip irrigation was used to deliver the fertilizer close to the plant roots. This practice also increases crop yields, a financial incentive for farmers. We urge our growers to adopt drip irrigation, where economically feasible, along with nutrient management planning best practices such as soil testing and nitrogen budgeting.

A Collaborative Partnership

Our key retail customers also understand the nitrogen opportunity. In 2013, we agreed to work with grain suppliers to improve fertilizer efficiency on 70,000 acres earmarked for Pepperidge Farm products supplied to Walmart. In 2015, we signed an agreement with SUSTAIN, a project of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and United Suppliers — a cooperative of agriculture retail chains and crop consultants throughout the U.S. and Canada. This innovative program enlists the aid of a voice that farmers trust — their crop consultant advisers — and equips that voice with knowledge of tools and techniques for farms to implement in their cropping systems.

This partnership expanded our fertilizer optimization programs in sourcing areas of Ohio and Nebraska that provide wheat to Pepperidge Farm. We plan to enroll an additional 70,000 acres into our fertilizer optimization programs by 2020. The project aims to improve water quality and reduce GHG emissions by optimizing fertilizer use and advancing soil conservation for farmers in our wheat and corn sourcing areas.

SUSTAIN is part of EDF’s Sustainable Sourcing Initiative to enable Campbell, along with industry peers, to do our part to make fertilizer efficiency and soil health the norm in U.S. grain production. EDF is a leading developer of reporting systems to track and measure both the environmental and economic benefits of fertilization optimization and conducts on-farm trials of fertilizer optimization tools to make sure farmers are using the best tools available.

Efficient use of inputs such as fertilizer also has positive business implications for our growers. It helps reduce the likelihood of regulatory impacts, which can negatively affect cost or production for their operations. Preventive adoption of best practices also enhances our growers’ efficiency, as well as reducing cost and improving yields in many cases.

Water and GHG Reductions

We have made progress in each of our priority areas, particularly water consumption. In FY2015, we reduced our agricultural water use (gal/lb raw tomato) by 18 percent and produced 12 percent fewer fertilizer-related GHG emissions per ton of tomato, measured year over year. Based on data collected in 2015, we know the typical Campbell farmer needs approximately 8.5 gallons of water for every pound of tomatoes produced, which is in line with other irrigated fruits and vegetables. But there’s still room for improvement. To reach our 2020 goal, we’re working directly with contract farms to develop more sustainable irrigation practices.

Water and fertilizer continue to be major priorities for our key stakeholders, with fertilizer a key contributor to GHG footprints as well as water-quality impacts. As recent droughts have demonstrated, restrictions on water availability for irrigation significantly impact what crops farmers can grow and where they can grow them. Campbell has been able to manage through drought conditions successfully due to close working relationships with farmers, through the adoption of more efficient irrigation technologies and practices, and through a small amount of shifting volume among sourcing regions.

Drip irrigation, for example, is one of the most efficient methods of watering crops because drip-irrigated tomato fields typically use about 40 percent less water (per ton) than required by the traditional irrigation method. The number of Campbell growers using drip irrigation has almost doubled in the last five years, with 60 percent of Campbell’s tomato acres currently using this type of irrigation. Using our 2012 baseline data, we are seeking to increase that number by identifying drip-irrigation opportunities across geographies. By showing individual growers how their water use compares to local/state averages, we ultimately want to help them move toward more efficient irrigation practices.

In 2014 and 2015, some of our tomato farmers and our carrot-growing operations at Bolthouse Farms were able to secure drought grant funding from the state of California to implement water-saving technologies, while also reducing GHG emissions. Bolthouse Farms has also been piloting improved irrigation techniques on certain farms, which has reduced water use on those pilot farms by 20 percent.

After two years of working primarily in tomatoes, we pledged in 2014 to expand our climate and water goals to four additional key vegetables: carrots, potatoes, celery and jalapeños. As a result, we now have data to set a baseline in these vegetables and are exploring collaborations to identify opportunities. For example, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in New Jersey will be working with Campbell vegetable growers in that state in 2016 to assess conservation practices appropriate to each farm.

Our focus on water extends to our agriculture processing plants as well. For example, our tomato processing plants in Dixon and Stockton, California, reduced freshwater pumped per ton of tomatoes processed 35 percent in FY2015 as compared to a 2010 baseline. The plants track performance daily throughout each harvest season. During the off season, learnings from harvest are built into improvement plans to be implemented during the following harvest.

As a proactive employer and neighbor, these actions began even before it was clear California had entered its most recent drought.

Pesticide Use

Reducing pests and disease helps create healthier crops and increases yields, but the industry’s traditional control methods have often depended on pesticides. Today’s sustainable pest and disease management, however, is achievable through a focus on prevention and by employing a variety of coordinated methods, collectively known as integrated pest management (IPM).

Pesticide reduction is an area where Campbell has historically been a leader. Though an effective IPM program will generally utilize pesticides to some degree, Campbell works with growers to ensure that prevention practices are the first line of defense.

To enhance our IPM efforts, each year, Campbell agriculture experts work to add more disease-resistant tomato varieties to our agriculture program, with the goal of creating traditionally bred plant varieties that allow farmers to increase yields while reducing or eliminating the need for pesticides.