Building Resiliency in Campbell Soup’s Agricultural Supply Chain
Our team met up with Megan Maltenfort, Director, Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability at Campbell Soup Company, to discuss their work to adapt their agricultural practices to the impacts of climate change.
This year, Campbell Soup Company celebrates its 150th anniversary. That is an impressive milestone for an iconic company firmly rooted in American culture. Driven by our Purpose, “Real food that matters for life’s moment,” we now look toward the next 150 years. With increasing resource constraints, more frequent natural disasters, and weather extremes affecting where and how we grow our food- the need to adapt to the impacts of climate change is more real than ever.
For a food company, this means building a more resilient agricultural supply chain so that we can ensure a secure and sustainable supply of ingredients to continue making real food for generations to come.
Above: Campbell Soup Company connecting with farmers to work towards a more resilient agricultural supply chain.
We do this by partnering with our farmers and other key stakeholders in two ways:
1. Education: We equip our farmers with information on how to use resources more efficiently and share data in ways which help them understand their environmental impact and opportunities to improve.
2. Technology: We encourage our farmers to explore the use of precision technology and “big data” tools to identify practices which optimize resource consumption and profitability.
Making Technology the Norm
It’s likely no surprise that tomatoes are important to Campbell - in fact, they are our most important ingredient! They are the foundation for our soups, beverages, sauces, and salsas. That’s why for years we have been working closely with the family farmers that grow tomatoes for Campbell. In partnership with these farmers, we have encouraged the installation of drip irrigation technology so that less water and fertilizer is consumed to produce tomatoes each growing season. This technology allows for the precise application of essential resources so that tomatoes can be grown as efficiently as possible.
In 2018, 72 percent of acres farmed for our tomatoes used drip irrigation systems. Through the use of this technology and other sustainable growing practices, we have seen a 15 percent reduction in water use per pound of tomatoes and an 18 percent reduction in GHG emissions per tonne of tomatoes since 2012.
Above: Megan works with Campbell's network of farmers to equip them with the resources needed to promote more sustainable agricultural practices.
Expanding Education and Access to Data
With the success of our tomato sustainability efforts, we more recently expanded our sustainability work to another key ingredient, wheat, through a partnership with Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN, the sustainability business unit from Land O’Lakes, Inc. Wheat is the foundation of our Pepperidge Farm brand and together with Land O’Lakes and their network of agricultural retailers (a farmer’s most trusted advisor), we are providing farmers with the education, tools, and products to optimize fertilizer use, maximize profitability, and minimize soil nutrient losses. In doing this, our farmers can protect both the health of the local watershed and the resiliency of their farms.
Through this project, we now know that of the 10,000+ acres assessed in 2018, 55 percent of those acres use cover crops, reducing soil erosion and improving soil fertility and quality; and 50 percent of the acres use variable-rate technology to identify the precise location, quantity, and quality of the nutrients being used. In partnership with the agricultural retailer and SUSTAIN, we are focusing on increasing the adoption rate of these practices and helping our farmers continuously improve.
Finding the right partners to provide access to education, data, and technology among our growers has been key to the success of our sustainable agriculture programs. Through strong collaboration, we can protect our shared resources to build resiliency into the future.
Campbell Soup Company is a sponsor of the 2019 Net Impact Conference. Hear more from their leaders at the Conference on October 24-26th in Detroit. To learn more about Campbell Soup Company's corporate responsibility work, please visit https://www.campbellcsr.com/.