WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. and BROOMFIELD, Colo. — Danone North America, the purpose-driven food and beverage leader with a diverse portfolio of dairy and plant-based brands, today announced the year five results of its multi-year, multi-million-dollar regenerative agriculture program, which includes both dairy milk and almond milk sourcing. Since its launch in 2017, the program has expanded its reach to 144,771 acres, greatly exceeding the company’s goal to reach 100,000 acres by 2022.
Danone North America, one of the world’s largest Certified B Corps™, defines regenerative agriculture as a set of farming practices that helps protect soils, water and biodiversity, and improve animal welfare while acknowledging the key role of farmers. The company is committed to advancing new agricultural models that can regenerate the planet while feeding a global population set to surpass 9.8 billion people by 2050.
To accomplish this, Danone North America introduced its regenerative agriculture program aimed in part at improving organic matter in soils to increase carbon sequestration and improve yields – ultimately reducing chemical use, restoring biodiversity and enhancing soil water holding capacity, which helps provide farms with improved, long-term economic resilience. 2.4 billion pounds of dairy milk has been sourced from acreage within the regenerative agriculture program, representing 75% of Danone North America’s dairy milk volume. Farmer partners in the program support sourcing for brands including Oikos®, Two Good®, Horizon Organic®, Silk® and more.
“Danone North America recognizes the potential of regenerative agriculture to serve as an impactful tool in our fight against climate change, and as a company, have committed to advancing these practices both within our farmer partner network and more broadly within the industry,” said Jennifer Simpson, director of agriculture, Danone North America. “By providing tailored, climate-smart agriculture resources and support to our farmers, we are helping to establish lasting impact, both economically and environmentally.”
Notable program performance highlights from the year five assessment include:
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sequestering carbon: Regenerative management practices on dairy farms reduced 51,200 tons of CO2e, equivalent to the average annual energy use of over 5,000 American homes, and sequestered more than 14,227 tons of carbon. Additionally, 70% of all dairy buildings in the program have been upgraded to LED lighting and Danone North America is continuing to work with its farmer partners to identify additional funding opportunities.
- Protecting and restoring soil: Farmer partners placed cover crops – which protect the soil and increase crop yields – on 69% of the program’s acreage; national average for cover cropping is only 5%. There was also 370,963 tons of natural manure fertilizer and 516 million gallons of natural manure effluent applied, which provide nutrients for crops and reduces the need for synthetic fertilizer use, resulting in a total fertilizer cost avoidance of $7.3 million.
- Fostering biodiversity with species, varieties and wildlife: Danone North America farmer partners in the program grew more than 30 species of cover and cash crops. Looking ahead, as an example of the continued focus to expand biodiversity efforts, Danone North America is working with almond farming partner Harris Woolf to develop a 10-acre pollinator garden, which will live among an on-farm array of solar panels.
- Preserving and protecting water systems: Results reflect various on-farm projects, including efforts at Danone North America partner McCarty Family Farms, which in year five reused 20 million gallons of water extracted by its milk condensing plant for irrigation needs. In addition, 57 soil moisture probes have been put into place across farms in the program to reduce excessive water use and maximize efficiency.
Through the program, Danone North America actively works hand-in-hand with its farmer partners to apply a tailored approach to each individual farm, helping them to adopt the most economically viable regenerative farming practices based on their needs. This includes implementing continuous improvement plans that allow farmers to identify areas of needed advancement so that they can receive funding and resources in support of ongoing innovation and progress.
“Through our adoption of regenerative farming methods that foster soil health and increase biodiversity, we have helped restore our soils’ natural cycles and increased its natural ability to sequester carbon. This ultimately reduces our emissions and allows us to play a vital role in combatting climate change. We hope the tremendous success we’ve advanced through these regenerative practices inspires others to take a similar path,” said Ken McCarty, co-owner of MVP Dairy and McCarty Family Farms.
Danone North America partners with Sustainable Environmental Consultants (SEC) and its EcoPractices® platform to conduct in-depth field-level sustainability analyses, outcome quantification, and reporting on regenerative agriculture to support continuous improvement for participating farmer partners. Last year, Danone North America worked with SEC to offer its R3™ ROI tool to program participants, advancing collective work toward generating measurable environmental, social, and economic impacts across supply chains.
“Thanks to the close partnerships cultivated by Danone North America and its farmers, the program has proven that regenerative agriculture not only benefits the environment, but also the livelihoods of farmers by delivering strong profitable returns,” said Dr. Sara Crawford, president of Sustainable Environmental Consultants. “Through our ongoing work together, we are helping to establish a best-in-market sustainability baseline and driving outcomes that provide learnings across the entire farming ecosystem.”
This progress announcement closely follows news that Danone North America was awarded a $70 million grant by the USDA to advance climate-smart agriculture, which will be applied across on-farm projects within its farmer partner network. The company also recently announced a $22 million investment by 2030 to improve access to, and availability of, nutritious and health-promoting foods at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.
As this is the final year of the research aspect of the program, looking ahead Danone North America will continue to build upon its regenerative agriculture program, working with its partners to increase program acreage and provide continuous improvement plans that drive meaningful progress. This is a key aspect of Danone’s goal, validated by the Science-Based Targets initiative, to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and become net zero by 2050.
More information on Danone North America’s regenerative agriculture practices can be found here.
About Danone North America
Danone North America is a purpose-driven company and an industry leader in the food and beverage category. As a Certified B Corporation®, Danone North America is committed to the creation of both economic and social value, while nurturing natural ecosystems through regenerative agriculture. Our strong portfolio of brands includes: Activia®, DanActive®, Danimals®, Dannon®, evian®, Happy Family® Organics, Honest to Goodness®, Horizon® Organic, International Delight®, Light + Fit®, Oikos®, Silk®, So Delicious® Dairy Free, STōK®, Two Good®, Wallaby® Organic, and YoCrunch®. With more than 6,000 employees and 16 production locations across the U.S. and Canada, Danone North America’s mission is to bring health through food to as many people as possible. For more information on Danone North America’s B Corp™ status, visit: https://bcorporation.net/directory/danone-north-america.
About Sustainable Environmental Consultants:
Established in 2008, Sustainable Environmental Consultants is part of the Wright Service Corp. employee-owned family of companies. Since its inception, SEC has endeavored to be a leader in providing innovative solutions to better the planet through sustainability risk management, third-party data reporting and verification, and agricultural compliance and engineering. We provide a full range of environmental services needed by food companies and their agriculture supply systems. To learn more, visit www.sustainableenviro.com.