Organizational Change
Q&A:
CEO Steve Cahillane on Kellogg’s Quest to Create ‘Better Days’ for All

Ahead of his main stage talk at SB'19 Detroit, we caught up with Cahillane to find out what’s in store. While he didn’t reveal the details, here’s what we learned.

With breakfast cereal as one of the US’ most deeply engrained food traditions, it’s great to see momentum from companies that will help kids and families start the day right. Since 2016, The Kellogg Company has worked hard to improve its commitment to local communities with a focus on food security and education; in 2018, it added a goal to achieve 100 percent reusable/recyclable or compostable packaging to the mix. On Monday, June 3, at SB’19 Detroit, CEO Steve Cahillane will announce the next step in Kellogg’s quest for sustainability.

Ahead of his main stage talk in Detroit, we caught up with Cahillane to find out what’s in store. While he didn’t reveal the details, here’s what we learned.

You’ll be unveiling new commitments at this year’s conference. Can you tell us a little bit about what to expect?

Steve Cahillane: As a global food leader, we believe strongly in the important role our company and our foods play in fighting hunger and feeding potential. Our passion for and commitment to this work comes to life in multiple ways through our Breakfasts for Better Days™ global signature cause platform. Together with our colleagues, customers, government leaders, partners and people who enjoy our foods, Kellogg is helping to make sure there is enough food for everyone in a world with a growing population and increasingly limited natural resources.

And we’re making a difference. In fact, we’re far ahead of schedule in achieving our current commitments, reaching more people with greater impact than we had anticipated at this point in time. In 2016, we announced a new commitment to create 3 billion Better Days by the end of 2025. Since then, Kellogg has delivered more than 1.2 billion Better Days, or 40 percent of our 2025 goal, in just two years by:

  • Donating 1.1 billion servings of food (44 percent of goal);

  • Reaching 1.1 million children with nutrition education and feeding programs (55 percent of goal);

  • Supporting 322,000 farmers (64 percent of goal);

  • Securing 18,100 volunteer days (40 percent of goal); and,

  • Engaging 135.4 million people in the journey to address food security (45 percent of goal).

But we know we can do more. At Sustainable Brands ’19 in Detroit, we’ll unveil our new commitments to drive positive change for people, communities and the planet by the end of 2030.

Can you share a couple of real-world examples from Kellogg brands of how you've seen this initiative improve lives?

SC: We have many examples of how our purpose-driven brands are making a difference:

  • For every package of our W.K. Kellogg cereal and granola sold in Europe, we make a donation of 10 pence (about USD$0.15) to projects that promote sustainable agriculture and provide breakfasts for people in need.

  • In the US, our Kellogg’s® brand donated USD$1 million to No Kid Hungry to expand school breakfast programs. As a result, 155,000 more children received a free school breakfast during the 2017-2018 school year.

  • We’ve also recently co-launched Bright Start, a unique public-private partnership to address morning hunger in India, where 70 percent of children are undernourished. Kellogg pledged to provide 1,000 tonnes of whole-grain, vitamin- and mineral-fortified food (the equivalent of USD$100,000). Our partners committed to develop a pilot project using this food and their in-kind services to test innovative approaches to solving morning hunger.

Now, let's shift gears to the business side of things. How did Breakfasts for Better Days™ become part of the company’s growth strategy? What decisions did you make on where to focus strategically and how is this initiative helping you win in those areas?

SC: From our earliest days, Kellogg has been a purpose-driven organization. Our founder, W.K. Kellogg, was an early conservationist and a leading philanthropist. He instilled in us the understanding that a critical part of running a good business is also doing good for society.

As a result, we’ve long understood that our abilities to make a difference in people’s lives and to win in the marketplace are completely intertwined. That’s why our Heart & Soul strategy is foundational to our company’s Deploy for Growth Business Strategy, as shown below. It guides us to always make sure that our company and business practices deliver benefits to people, our communities and the planet. We do so by nourishing with our foods, feeding people in need and nurturing our planet, all while living our founder’s values. Our Heart & Soul strategy comes to life through Breakfasts for Better Days.

Image credit: Kellogg

What has Kellogg learned in the process of achieving the goals of a global platform such as Breakfasts for Better Days?

SC: We know we can’t achieve our commitments alone. That’s why Kellogg has long worked with our colleagues, supplier partners, customers, government leaders, NGOs, people who enjoy our foods and others to improve lives and the planet we all share.

Our employees have always embraced our company’s values and demonstrated that we are a company with a heart and soul every day. In the past two years, we have been especially excited by the level of employee engagement in Breakfasts for Better Days. They logged 18,100 employee volunteer hours during that time, which is 40 percent of our end of 2025 goal.

For example:

  • Employees at our Canadian headquarters office near Toronto adopted the Burnhamthorpe Public School with 635 students — ages four to 10 — located in a community where one in three people struggle with poverty. Twice a week, Kellogg employees volunteer at the school’s breakfast club. Since launching the program in the beginning of the 2018 school year, student participation in the school breakfast program has increased.

  • Kellogg South Africa employees spent International Nelson Mandela Day volunteering at a local school where our company sponsors a breakfast club. The team served breakfast to the students and then renovated and painted two classrooms, in keeping with the spirit of the day that positive change begins with small actions.

  • In honor of World Children’s Day in April, employees from our Latin American headquarters in Mexico volunteered their time to prepare cereal donation packages for nearly 20,000 children at 51 schools. Employees also wrote personal caring and motivational messages on every package.

  • Kellogg employees and their families volunteered at Dublin’s Cross Care Youth Center, sorting and packing foods for impoverished families for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

We also continue to be proud of the many partnerships we’ve forged with customers, NGOs and others to help advance this important work. We’ll be profiling four of these programs and discussing what we’ve learned about creating mutually beneficial partnerships at a Sustainable Brands ’19 breakout session on Tuesday, June 4.

Breakfasts for Better Days has been identified by The Business of Social Investments as “one of the most focused CSR strategies in the industry, aligning the business strategy with societal needs.” How does Kellogg maintain this focus across its portfolio of brands around the world and what can we expect from this work as it continues to evolve?

SC: Since 2013, when we introduced Breakfasts for Better Days™, we’ve focused our Heart & Soul strategy on driving the transformational change needed to address the worldwide issue of food security. We’ve taken this approach because, like the United Nations Committee on Food Security, we at Kellogg see food security as a holistic issue. It goes beyond feeding hungry people to “making sure that all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”

Because our Heart & Soul strategy is foundational to our Deploy for Growth business strategy, this approach is embedded across the company and embraced around the world. Research shows that people want to work for companies with shared values, and our colleagues have clearly embraced our pillars of nourishing with our foods, feeding people in need, and nurturing our planet, while also living our founder’s values. They regularly bring forth ideas for how their brands or functional teams can help our company achieve our commitment to create 3 billion Better Days by the end of 2025.

Of course, this work also has to continually evolve to address societal needs. We’ll be talking more about how we plan to build on our current successes and take our impact to the next level at Sustainable Brands ’19 on June 3.

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