By Nadine Sudnick
Executive Vice President, Communications
Dairy Management, Inc.
As consumers, we all want to make smart decisions, and have access to tools to help us do so. We can read customer reviews of products, scan social media channels like Twitter and Facebook to see what our friends are saying, and Google recent news articles.
But, did you know that corporate social responsibility reports (CSR reports) are another powerful tool we can use? With these reports, companies are sharing business principles and practices, collecting data on environmental and economic performance and promoting community outreach initiatives. They provide credibility, authenticity and transparency between companies and consumers, to help us feel better informed when making purchase decisions.
More and more dairy businesses are joining the effort to be more transparent, and have collected some incredible facts that they may not have researched or communicated otherwise. Here are some highlights from recent reports I’ve read:
Darigold 2010 Corporate Social Responsibility Report — Darigold calculated the ripple effects from its more than 500 dairies, 11 processing plants, and domestic and international distribution networks:
- Darigold employs about 1,300 people, and its dairies employ over 2,900 full-time workers, all of which fuels thousands of additional jobs. Multiple studies have placed the economic value of dairy at more than $15,000 per dairy cow; for Darigold, this translates into more than $5 billion in economic value generated throughout the Northwest.
2011 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Report — OK, maybe I’m a bit biased since the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy put this report together, but did you know:
- The entire dairy industry — from farm to table — sets voluntary goals to improve the economic, environmental and social impacts of dairy. Since 2008, we have been making progress toward our first goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for a gallon of milk by 25 percent by 2020.
- Since 1944, innovations and improvements have enabled the dairy industry to use 90 percent less cropland, 65 percent less water, 63 percent less carbon and produce 76 percent less manure
General Mills Global Responsibility 2012 — General Mills gave $118.7 million to charitable causes in its 2011 fiscal year in the form of foundation grants, corporate contributions/brand partnerships and product donations. Total 2011 giving was an increase of 18 percent from 2010.
- In 2011, more than 200 volunteers worked together in Minnesota to grow 1,400 pounds carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, beans, broccoli, peppers, cauliflower and other vegetables. The fresh produce is donated to hunger-relief organizations in the Twin Cities area.
CSR reports don’t just help consumers make decisions. They help dairy farms and businesses set educated goals to become more sustainable, and then track their progress overtime. So next time you feel like doing a little consumer research, why not check your favorite dairy to see if it has a CSR report? It’s a great way to get a better understanding of all the efforts dairy farmers and processors put into making sure you enjoy high-quality dairy products that also benefit your community.