Helping Vanilla Farmers Increase Yields in Madagascar

General Mills and Häagen-Dazs today announced an initiative designed to foster greater economic vitality for smallholder vanilla farmers in Madagascar and ensure the availability of high quality vanilla for future generations.

Häagen-Dazs, the world’s leading brand of super-premium ice cream, with the General Mills Foundation, will invest $125,000 over two years to benefit villages in Madagascar’s Sava region, home of the world’s highest quality vanilla.

According to General Mills, the commitment builds upon century-long history of working closely with farmers around the world to promote sustainable agriculture.

The new program will leverage the strengths of three global partners to help promote sustainable vanilla farming in Madagascar: General Mills will leverage its extensive supply chain and agronomic knowledge; vanilla supplier Virginia Dare will leverage its deep understanding of the vanilla market; and international humanitarian organization CARE will leverage its extensive expertise fighting global poverty.

“At General Mills, our mission is Nourishing Lives,” explained Jerry Lynch, vice president and chief sustainability officer at General Mills. “Working to improve the lives of smallholder farmers by helping them accrue a greater share of the benefit from the crops they produce will also help ensure a sustainable and quality supply of vanilla for the future.”

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The sustainable vanilla sourcing program is part of a larger, more comprehensive sustainable sourcing plan being advanced by General Mills. In 2011, General Mills completed an extensive global assessment of the ingredients and materials it sources, developing an overall global sustainable sourcing model.

Vanilla is one of 10 ingredients General Mills has prioritized to source sustainably. The company is now advancing sourcing strategies on each of the 10 priority ingredients where the greatest impact can be achieved.

General Mills is one of the world’s leading food companies, operating in more than 100 countries. Its brands include Cheerios, Fiber One, Häagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Yoplait, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, and Wanchai Ferry.

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Rakesh Raman