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unique business capabilities

Draw on the company’s particular capabilities

Even in purely philanthropic areas, companies can have greater impact by drawing on their unique business capabilities and applying those skills to complex societal problems. In our own efforts, we try to add value in ways that are different from—and ideally additive to—what others can do.

For example, to address hunger in the United States, we make use of our particular assets. Over the past several years, we have donated nearly 1.5 billion pounds of food to food banks across the United States, including an increasing amount of fresh food nearing the end of its shelf life. This improves nutrition among those most in need, while reducing the amount of food we send to landfills as waste. We also donated more than 180 trucks and refrigerated trucks, as well as time and expertise in logistics (since this is an area we understand well), to help strengthen the country’s charitable cold chain.

Aim for a triple bottom line

In tackling priority issues, we design our initiatives to promote benefits for society as well as business. We set ambitious targets, and we track progress rigorously.

In food sourcing, for example, we pursue initiatives that lower the environmental and financial cost of food production. One of these initiatives, agriculture optimization, aims to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by eight million metric tons across ten million acres of row crops such as oats and rice by 2020. Similar initiatives in the food chain and our own operations have allowed us to reduce our greenhouse-gas emissions by approximately 18 million metric tons since 2010. To do so, we are working with the Environmental Defense Fund, as well as other large food companies, including Cargill and General Mills, to adjust the use of fertilizer and other inputs. We measure progress by tracking improvements in greenhouse-gas emissions, water, yields, and other critical factors per ton of food produced, by supplier and by category.

Such initiatives provide classic triple-bottom-line results. Besides the important reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions, they helped us to cut the price of fruits and vegetables in the United States by a total of $3.5 billion through 2012 and 2013, offering important benefits for our customers and improving the world’s food supply.