Collaboration
How Ford, MillerCoors, Hershey Are Helping Suppliers Innovate for Sustainability

In this Tuesday afternoon panel, representatives from Ford, MillerCoors and Hershey described how their companies are leveraging a variety of partnerships to innovate for sustainability across their global supply chains.

In 2014, Ford launched its innovative Partnership for a Cleaner Environment (PACE) program, which focuses on collaborating with suppliers to reach the company’s aggressive environmental targets.

“At Ford, we believe by working together we can create strong business, great products and a better world,” said Mary Wroten, Ford’s Global Senior Manager of Supply Chain Sustainability. The automaker is committed to reducing the environmental footprint of its direct operations, vehicles and supply chain through a:

Ford aims to accomplish these by sharing leading practices with 25 strategic suppliers that manage 800 manufacturing sites within 41 countries all over the world, and focusing on suppliers with the biggest footprints who could also make the biggest impact. The company was also the first car manufacturer to join the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) to address conflict minerals in its supply chain. Wroten said membership made sense: EICC has shared values, and its training and audit tool is only slightly different than Ford’s, making the transition simple.

Meanwhile, MillerCoors’ efforts have been focused on water.

“Water is the most important ingredient in our products...and 90% of water used to make beer is in our agricultural supply chain,” said Director of Sustainability Kim Marotta.

To tackle water use on the farm, a partnership with The Nature Conservancy was a natural choice, as it has the trust of local farmers and a deep understanding of water management. MillerCoors decided to start small, focusing on creating a showcase farm in Silver Creek Colorado, where the brewer implemented highly innovative water-saving measures that not only saved 550 million gallons in 2015 but also improved barley quality; as Marotta pointed out: “Barley is to beer as grapes are to wine.”

These types of wins attract other farmers to more sustainable practices because they not only result in savings but a better product. What do those types of savings actually mean? When questioned, Marotta reflected, “All beer brewing is measured by gallons of water used to produce a gallon of beer. Craft brewers typically use 5 to 10 gallons; we are currently at 3.29 and our goals is to get it down to 3.”

Next, Whitney Mayer, Hershey’s Manager of Social Innovation, shared two core initiatives: Learn to Grow (LTG) and Nourishing Minds. LTG is a farmer training program aimed at improving cocoa farm productivity and farmer livelihoods. The program has been a great success impacting the lives of over 31,000 farmers in 2015 alone.

Nourishing Minds, an initiative aimed at ending child malnutrition in developing countries, was to me the more intriguing venture. At first glance, Hershey seems an unlikely candidate to address child nutrition. Anticipating our question, Mayer opened by stating that through Nourishing Minds the company is using its world-class expertise in food production and processing to provide basic nutrition to help children learn and grow.

While it might not seem like a natural fit, Mayer feels it is strongly brand-aligned. “This builds on our legacy of education through the Milton Hershey School and also aligns with the direction our company is going including building on our portfolio to include a range of better for you snacks and responding to consumer trends including offering our products with simple ingredients.”

Through a partnership with Energize Learning in Ghana, the program has delivered Vivi, a peanut based vitamin and mineral-fortified nutritional supplement to 50,000 children in the country. Currently the peanuts are imported from the U.S., but through a partnership with USAID Hershey hopes to have 100% locally sourced by 2018. The program also operates in the U.S through a partnership with Feeding America. The long-term goal for the program: nourish 1 million minds by 2020.

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