Cargill launches starch sustainability program across Europe

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26 Oct 2018 --- To ensure a long-term sustainable crop supply for food starch, Cargill has committed to source waxy corn 100 percent sustainably from European farmers. In support of this initiative, Cargill has developed the Waxy Corn Promise program, leveraging the strong partnerships between Cargill, farmers and co-op suppliers to address key sustainability challenges in the waxy corn growing regions. Benchmarked at the Silver level by the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform (SAI Platform), the Waxy Corn Promise delivers on consumers’ expectations for more sustainable food ingredients, says Cargill.

“The Waxy Corn Promise was developed with the support of our agricultural crop suppliers and an agronomy consultancy, to ensure that we make real sustainability impact,” explains Dawn Emerson, Cargill Sustainability Manager. “It is tailored specifically to the waxy corn crop and the growing regions, recognizing the good work that farmers do already and providing improvement actions to help them become more sustainable year-on-year.”

Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Emerson highlights how important sustainability is in the corn supply chain. “Sustainability is not about what we do today – it is a long-term commitment where we aim to achieve improvements. At the farm level, there are several key challenges in the waxy corn regions, such as sandy soil (nutrient leaching), diversity (monoculture), water stress (dry season) and water use (irrigation). We want to support our farmers and focus on sustainability that will improve and ensure a long-term crop supply,” she notes. 

“Our program recognizes what farmers do already and provides clear actions to bring incremental improvements. In doing so, it meets customer’s needs, driven by consumer demand, to use sustainably sourced ingredients in their foods. It helps food developers understand the sustainability level of their food starches and contribute to corporate sustainability goals,” Emerson says. 

“The Waxy Corn Promise program is the first program we have done in a European region and we started with waxy corn as a pilot because of the strong relationships we have with the cooperatives in France. These relationships ensure the success of the project and the commitment of the farmers to participate in the full program which is set out in three-year improvement phases,” she adds.  

According to Judd Hoffman, Director for Texturizers & Specialties at Cargill Europe, the European crops have been impacted by the early to mid-summer dry weather. “We have been working closely with our suppliers and farmers to monitor crops and harvested yields. Cargill’s robust and reliable supply chain has overcome any shortage or quality issues and we currently succeed to offer our customers the quantities we committed to,” he tells FoodIngredientsFirst.

Continuous improvement is a vital component of the program, according to Cargill. Action plans are implemented and reviewed each year, at each farm, in close collaboration with Cargill’s supplier partners. The sustainability actions are deliberately targeted at the most relevant topics for waxy corn and the growing areas: protection of biodiversity, soil and water quality preservation and water use optimization.

“We are committed to making an impact and raising sustainability standards across our supply chains,” continues Hoffman. “Waxy corn is a specific type of corn used to produce starches serving as ingredients in many food products and the Waxy Corn Promise provides credible claims, helping our customers achieve their sustainability targets. It also provides assurance and certainty to consumers who are increasingly seeking products containing sustainably sourced ingredients.” 

While helping farmers protect and efficiently use their valuable natural resources, the Waxy Corn Promise also drives positive change throughout the European starch supply chain, in line with Cargill's commitment to nourishing the world, protecting the planet and enriching our communities, says the company.

By Elizabeth Green

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