Inside General Mills
|Sept. 2, 2010
|| General Mills Corporate Communications |
General Mills links its expertise to effort in Africa
Planting and growing crops isn’t a problem in much of Africa, but processing corn and soybeans into food products, and distributing them, often is.
Partners in Food Solutions is the new name for a two-year-old General Mills-driven effort to coordinate the business and technical expertise of company volunteers and other U.S.-based food companies and nonprofits to meet the farm-to-market needs of four African nations.
Insta-Pro International provides technology consultation, equipment and other support for Partners in Food Solutions.
Root Capital, a nonprofit social investment fund that provides financing for select businesses participating with Partners in Food Solutions.
TechnoServe, a nonprofit organization that works to identify and support companies working with the program.
The U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief partnerships are focused on improving the ability of small and medium-sized enterprises in the food sector across sub-Saharan Africa to produce healthy, fortified food products, and improving access to food for people affected by HIV/AIDS.
General Mills and its partners are currently assisting small and medium-sized food processors and mills in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia.
More than 300 General Mills volunteers have developed and refined the public-private partnership to improve the ability of select companies to produce affordable, high-quality, nutritious and safe food and to increase demand for the crops of small farmers who supply these businesses.
The ultimate goal of the partnership, which now includes the U.S. government, is to help Africa build a stronger, more sustainable food supply chain — and a more secure future in the process.
Results in Africa
“General Mills has a mission to nourish lives, and we are seeing results in Africa, but we have so much more yet to accomplish,” says Peter Erickson, senior vice president, Innovation, Technology and Quality.
By improving the capacity and expertise of local food processors, Erickson says, Partners in Food Solutions creates a “virtuous circle” by improving the food processing operations, and the farmers’ income, which allows them to pay for school fees, medical care and expand their businesses.
Other village businesses benefit, as do consumers, through a more stable, affordable and nutritious food supply.
Fourteen projects currently are under way in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia. They link the talents of General Mills employees from across our company – research and development, nutrition, engineering, marketing, finance and beyond – with small, growing food processors in those countries.
“When Partners in Food Solutions helps this company, they are helping the farmers who grow the grain, the employees at the company, people like me who sell the product, and the people who eat the food. You are not just helping a company, you are helping Tanzania,” says Omaroi Omo, distributor for Nyirefami Ltd., Arusha, Tanzania.
More volunteers will be needed as the partnership expands in the next three to five years. Erickson says the goal is to broaden the network of U.S.-based food companies and share their collective talents with more than 200 food processors and other food-related businesses and organizations across 14 African nations.
Volunteers will donate an estimated $20 million in services during that time. The partnership is expected to expand to aid other developing countries.
General Mills currently partners with Insta-Pro International, Root Capital, TechnoServ and two federal agencies to leverage their core business skills, technical expertise, and hands-on knowledge of the food industry to fight hunger and improve lives.
“With over one billion suffering from hunger and malnutrition around the world, these are the kinds of steps that we need to be taking,” says U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on the partnership between the U.S. government and General Mills.
Inside General Mills