McCormick lays out ambitious New Year’s resolutions for its farmers, employees and the planet

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

McCormick lays out ambitious New Year’s resolutions

Related tags: Mccormick, Sustainability

Spice giant McCormick and Co. is getting a jump start on New Year’s resolutions with an aggressive line-up of goals for improving the livelihoods of its farmers, advancing environmental sustainability and fostering a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

As part of its 2017 Purpose-Led Performance Report​, McCormick “set a very ambitious goal of making sure we have resilience in our farm communities by 90% because most of them are really small-holder or individual-holder farms”​ that don’t have access to the same resources for improving production and their livelihoods as larger establishments, Mike Okoroafor, vice president of global sustainability and packaging innovation at McCormick, told FoodNavigator-USA.

“What we are really talking about is using our suppliers and non-governmental organization partners to get visibility into those communities to identify their needs and then providing them with expertise to increase their skills and capacity, and giving them access to financing”​ as well as formal markets so they can produce and earn more, he said.

Already, McCormick has helped more than 3,000 farmers implement agricultural best practices and access operational management solutions to improve market pricing, according to the report. It wants to build on this so that by 2025 it has enrolled 90% of farmers who produce vanilla, red pepper, black pepper, oregano and cinnamon, the report adds.

Part of ensuring farmers have a viable income is teaching them to grow high-quality crops in a way that doesn’t harm their land or plants, which feeds into another of the company’s goals to have sustainably sourced crops for its iconic ingredients by 2025, Okoroafor said.

“We don’t think we can achieve our goal of having sustainably sourced crops by 2025 if we don’t have communities that are committed to responsible farming and making sure they are using the best technology and techniques,”​ he said.

With that in mind, the company is training vanilla farmers to let the beans ripen on the vine so that the quality is higher and they can demand a higher price, he explained.

Another example is the company’s efforts to train more than 2,300 farmers in Vietnam at demo farms on how to improve black pepper harvest and yield – a figure that exceeds its 2016 goal to train 1,500 farmers and puts McCormick on track to surpass its goal of training 3,000 farmers by the end of 2017, Okoroafor said.

From sustainable farming to sustainable production

These efforts not only advance McCormick’s goal of improving the resilience of its farmers, but they also feed directly into the company’s goals to improve the environmental impact of its business, Okoroafor said.

Beyond implementing more sustainable farming practices, he explained that McCormick also has several commitments around using renewable energy and reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

Specifically, he said, by 2025, McCormick aims to reduce its solid waste by 80%, its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% and its water use by 20%, Okoroafor said.

One way it is doing this is by revamping its packaging for iconic products, including a shift from metal cans for its pepper and Old Bay seasoning to all plastic, he said. The switch to fully recyclable PET containers translated to a 16% reduction in carbon emissions by reducing the products’ weight for transport.

The switch also supports the company’s goal to remove BPA from all of its packaging by the end of 2018, according to the report.

Promoting diversity in the workplace

Finally, the company wants to improve the health, wellness and diversity of its employees.

As such, McCormick aims to have 30% of its US leadership positions filled by people of color, 50% of its leaderships globally by women and 30% employee participation in Ambassador Groups globally, according to the report. 

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