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Increasing Supply Chain Transparency and Efficiency: Q&A with Amy Braun

“We have to be well-versed in the science,” says Amy Braun, sustainability director for Kellogg Company, referring to the climate science that informs their greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. In 2015, the multinational food manufacturing company adopted ambitious emissions reduction commitments as part of the global Science Based Targets initiative.

Braun will be speaking about the future of greenhouse gas management at the 2017 Environmental Leader Conference in June. Recently we caught up with her to find out how Kellogg is increasing transparency and efficiency while lowering greenhouse gas emissions within its supply chain.

What does greenhouse gas management mean at Kellogg?

When we look at greenhouse gas management, we’re looking at the whole supply chain.

We were one of the first companies that had Scope 1, 2, and 3 greenhouse gas Science Based Targets. We partnered with WRI, World Wildlife Fund, CDP, and others in 2015. We are working with CDP Supply Chains, for example, to capture the data and information from our suppliers for our Scope 3 emissions. Our goal is to engage 75% of our tier one suppliers to annually report on carbon activities to reduce emissions through CDP Supply Chain by 2020

How is Kellogg working to achieve this?

We started by understanding where the emissions are coming from for our manufacturing, within our offices and warehouses all the way to how our ingredients are grown and how they get to our doorstep. With that, we narrowed our focus. In our manufacturing, we are focused on efficiency improvements and identifying onsite low carbon energy opportunities. We are working with suppliers, farmers, and other partners on climate smart agriculture programs to improve yields and reduce GHG emissions. Directly and indirectly through our partnerships, we are reaching 294,000 farmers.

By prioritizing, we were able to go after big opportunities, and then we had conversations with our suppliers, peer companies, NGOs, other partners, and technology providers to see what is best practice in the industry, how we leverage things that work well, and improve upon areas where we see a lot of opportunity.

What’s an example of a success story from those partnerships?

We are a part of a number of different multi-stakeholder initiatives focused on sustainable agriculture and driving conservation outcomes. We’re looking for opportunities for farmers to be more efficient, save money, and have positive environmental outcomes in their communities. We want to find those opportunities, work together for a common goal, and find ways to reduce costs while improving the environmental footprint — and tell a transparent story to all the people who are interested in how our business is run through OpenForBreakfast.com and our brands.

In Michigan one of our suppliers, Star of the West Milling, provides wheat products that go into Frosted Mini Wheats and other brands. We have a relationship with 16 different farmers there to measure continuous improvements on their practices. We bring Kellogg teams as well as some of our partners like The Nature Conservancy there. Then we share that story on OpenforBreakfast.com to give examples of what these projects mean to a farmer, how it relates the food we make, and how we’re trying to improve the communities and the environment in which we operate.

What is a major challenge to keeping your supply chain sustainable?

One is just the scale of our business. We’re not the largest company out there, but we’re definitely a household name. Right now, through our engagement work, we’re reaching hundreds of suppliers through the CDP Supply Chain work on understanding our greenhouse gas footprint, and we’re working with 70 suppliers on sustainable agriculture.

We have also committed to responsibly sourcing our 10 priority ingredients for fruits and grains like corn, rice, and wheat, through measuring continuous improvement on fertilizer and water optimization, conservation practices, and GHG emissions. We are engaging thousands of farmers on this.

Are there tools that have helped you tackle the challenge of scale?

We want to make sure sustainability is recognized when we decide who we’re going to purchase from. At Kellogg we partner closely with our procurement teams; they are working with suppliers every day. Sustainability is embedded in [the teams’] sourcing events, annual supplier scorecards, awards and recognition for suppliers, and even their annual objectives as buyers.

How are new greenhouse gas regulations impacting Kellogg?

There’s always a changing and evolving regulatory environment. Kellogg has been proud to participate in COP21 and COP22. We are part of the We Mean Business Coalition to share how we are engaging on environmental priorities. Through We Mean Business, we have committed to responsible corporate engagement in climate policy, to adopt a science-based emissions reduction target, and to remove commodity-driven deforestation from all supply chains by 2020.

Which steps are you taking to stay on top of these changes?

Kellogg is a part of a number of different multi-stakeholder initiatives. We’re members of BICEP, which is an organization put together by CERES that’s focusing on U.S. environmental policy. Also we’re members of the Consumer Goods Forum and Grocery Manufacturers Association. Through those, we understand what’s happening in the global and local landscapes, and how we can make sure our company is embedding those policy outcomes into how we run our business.

What was it like before the science-based targets came out?

I don’t think there was as standardized a tool to set targets. The science-based target methodologies help drive consistency, creating a community of people who work together to find solutions.

The biggest challenge is the speed in which the science continues to improve. We have to be well-versed in the science, dynamic in understanding how the science, technology, and costs are changing, and quickly translate that to stakeholders.

How to you achieve that?

We rely on our peer organizations and partners, especially the NGOs, to keep us informed. That’s why the multi-stakeholder initiatives are so important. Coming together, sharing our challenges, our wisdom, and how we’re working can help connect the dots. Our consumers care about where their food comes from, how it’s grown and made, and it’s our responsibility to share that story with them.


Amy Braun will be speaking at the Environmental Leader Conference in Denver June 5-7, 2017. Her track, Anticipating the Future of Greenhouse Gas Management, starts at 10:10 am on June 6.

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