Today, more companies are prioritizing and supporting regenerative farming practices in the first mile of global supply chains.
By supporting farmers in their transition to regenerative farming practices, these companies can drive sustainable impact across intersecting goals, from combatting climate change to curbing deforestation to boosting farmer livelihoods.
Investments in regenerative agriculture practices are also a matter of core business objectives, helping companies build more resilient and reliable supply chains.
8 Forward-Thinking Companies Supporting Regenerative Agriculture Practices
Below, we look at 8 leading companies advancing regenerative agriculture in global supply chains. These companies are partnering and innovating to support their farmers as they adopt and scale regenerative farming practices.
In 2021, PepsiCo announced a new 2030 goal to deploy regenerative farming practices across 7 million acres—an amount roughly equivalent to the global land footprint needed to supply crops for the company’s products.
This initiative, part of the company's broader pep+ (PepsiCo Positive) ambition, simultaneously advances the company’s climate goals and its pledge to sustainably source 100% of its key ingredients by 2030. It also includes a third focus - improving the livelihoods of more than 250,000 people in the company's agricultural supply chain and communities, including economically empowering women, through initiatives such as the USAID-supported PepsiCo GDA initiative in which Resonance plays a significant partnership role.
Then in 2022, the company announced the continuation of its global agriculture accelerator, the Positive Agriculture Outcomes (PAO) Fund, by granting 14 business projects across 11 countries funding to address some of the most intractable challenges facing agriculture today. The fund supports through "de-risking" those promising initiatives that use regenerative farming practices and approaches, as well those that focus on planning for resiliency and sustainable "landscapes" in regions along PepsiCo's supply chains.
Walmart is focusing its regenerative-farming investments on critical commodities such as wheat, soy, corn, and rice. As part of this work, Walmart has partnered with the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative (MRCC), a cross-sector initiative focused on helping farmers in the Midwest adopt regenerative farming practices. Together, partners will work with 30,000 farming operations to advance regenerative farming practices across 30 million acres in the Midwest.
In 2022, the company expanded its focused support on regenerative farming practices to include cotton. The Walmart Foundation, the company's charitable arm addressing economic, environmental and social challenges, announced a $2 million three-year grant on the Soil Health Institute’s (SHI) U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund (USRCF), a science-based initiative designed to empower farmers and their advisors with the tools, resources and networks they need to successfully adopt regenerative soil health systems.
There are many ways a company can support regenerative farming practices in its supply chain. For French-based multinational Kering and its luxury brands, the company chose to launch an investment fund. In partnership with Conservation International, Kering has created the Regenerative Fund for Nature, which provides grants to farming groups, project leaders, NGOs, and other stakeholders to support regenerative farming practices in the fashion industry. The Fund has prioritized projects in India, France, Argentina, Mongolia, South Africa, and Spain.
This past year, Kering continued to expand its support of initiatives focused on regenerative agriculture practices. The company teamed with the J Crew group and the sustainable cotton platform Cotton Connect to publish a comprehensive report with the nonprofit Textile Exchange detailing years of research into the ways regenerative agricultural practices can help build soil carbon, improve nutrient availability, water holding capacity, and soil biodiversity, as well as resilience to extreme weather and disease, all of which also benefit health and livelihoods in local communities.
According to an announcement by Textile Exchange in Vogue Business, this report accompanies a new framework for investing in initiatives around regenerative agricultural practices, "helping fashion brands set goals; identify the best certified projects; outline methodologies to measure impact; and develop financial models to support the two- to five-year transition, which could include long-term purchasing contracts and shared financial goals with farmers."
4. VF Corporation
Outdoor apparel, footwear, and accessory company VF Corp is supporting regenerative farming across its brands. For example, Timberland is expanding its supply of regenerative leather, while both Vans and The North Face have committed to sourcing 100% of their top materials from regenerative, responsible, renewable, or recycled sources. VF Corporation is working with its Timberland, Vans, and The North Face brands to build and scale regeneratively grown rubber supply chains in Vietnam.
In partnership with Indigo Ag, The North Face is also offering a financial incentive to farmers who embrace regenerative farming practices. The company is paying cotton farmers a premium on their product as well as carbon credits if they deploy regenerative agriculture practices that store carbon and restore soil health.
This past year, VF also supported through a VF Foundation grant the U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund (USRCF) to advance the adoption of soil health management systems across more than 1 million acres of U.S. cotton cropland. This unique, farmer-facing, science-based initiative supports long-term, regenerative cotton production in the U.S., with the goal of eliminating one million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) from the atmosphere by 2026.
5. General Mills
General Mills has committed to advancing regenerative agriculture across one million acres of farmland by 2030. In this work, General Mills is taking steps to center the farmer. The company has used a series of pilot programs to understand the crop- and region-specific challenges that farmers face and to find solutions that work for them. The company engages farmers in multi-day workshops on regenerative farming principles, one-on-one technical support, and personalized coaching.
To further understand and refine on-farm solutions, the company has also developed a Regenerative Agriculture Self-Assessment Tool. The tool helps farmers map alignment between their practices and regenerative farming principles. It can be applied regardless of farm size, what is grown (crop or livestock), or for organic or conventional farms.
This past year, General Mills began working with grassroots organization Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS), announcing a multi-year partnership to support farmers and accelerate regenerative agricultural practices in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Canada – key regions where General Mills sources oats for brands like Cascadian Farm, Cheerios, and Nature Valley. The initiative will focus on soil health through ALUS's new "Growing Roots" pilot program.
In 2021, Unilever released a set of Regenerative Agriculture Principles and implementation guides, to enhance its longstanding Sustainable Agriculture Code. These Principles will serve to guide the company and its suppliers in better protecting the soil, increasing biodiversity, improving water quality, storing carbon, and restoring the land. The company will test its Regenerative Agriculture Principles in practice with a series of what it calls “Lighthouse Programmes.” In these programs, the company will work with suppliers and farmers to understand the support they need and set up tracking systems to measure which practices deliver real impact on the ground.
This past year, the Unilever Climate & Nature Fund, AXA Climate, and Tikehau Capital announced a partnership to explore the idea of an investment tool that will help accelerate the transition to regenerative agriculture. Each company is committed to investing €100 million to be deployed over the fund’s life in initiatives and regenerative agriculture practices. However, the companies anticipate leveraging their investment with additional funds from public and institutional investors, as well as other industrial players to make a bigger impact. Their collective target is €1 billion.
According to Unilever, the fund will focus on three main areas: (1) Protecting soil health to enhance biodiversity, preserve water resource and fight climate change; (2) Ensuring the future supply of regenerative ingredients to meet the needs of a growing global population and consumer demand for increasingly sustainable products; and (3) Helping unlock technology-based solutions.
7. Grupo Bimbo
Grupo Bimbo, the world’s largest baking company, is one of the first major companies outside the United States and Europe to make bold regenerative farming commitments. Based in Mexico City, Grupo Bimbo partnered with CIMMYT on its Bimbo Sustainable Corn and Wheat program, helping farmers transition to regenerative farming practices on over 14,800 hectares.
Bimbo endeavors to progress against a pledge that by 2050, all of Bimbo’s key ingredients will be sourced from land farmed using regenerative agriculture practices. More broadly, the company has pledged to reduce net emissions to zero by 2050.
According to Hayden Wands, vice president of global procurement for Grupo Bimbo, the company is exploring with producers various combinations of regenerative agriculture and farming practices along its supply chains under the 32 different cultivation practices that fall under the RA umbrella. The company's RA project this past year, which expanded to include a pilot in the US, encompassed 195,000 acres, including 54,000 acres in Mexico (wheat and corn) and 141,000 acres in the United States (wheat alone). An additional pilot is slated for Canada in 2023 or early 2024.
Microsoft is investing in regenerative agriculture with a two-prong approach: (1) by purchasing carbon credits linked to sustainable farming practices and soil health, and (2) by developing new technology that farmers can use in the field. For example, in partnership with Land O’Lakes, Microsoft is working to develop a suite of technology tools that will help farmers increase profitability and transition to more sustainable farming practices like no-till, precision nutrient management, and cover crop planting.
In 2022, Microsoft and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) partnered to support digital transformation in Africa's agriculture sector. The initiative provides a suite of agriculture solutions via digital tools, providing users with the opportunity to upskill in areas such as more productive climate-smart farming practices and the application of ‘farming as a business’. The digital tools delivered through the partnership are leveraging Microsoft’s agritech chatbot known as the AgBot, which provides extension and advisory services to smallholder farmers using either feature phones or smartphones, via SMS, WhatsApp and Telegram. These solutions address capacity constraints and inefficiencies in the supply chain of African agribusinesses.
Making the Transition to a Regenerative Farming Future
This list of forward-thinking companies represents just a snapshot of what’s happening in today's corporate world. There continues to be greater commitment to investing in regenerative agriculture practices and exploring and testing place-based, farm-based best practices through regenerative farm research.
The transition to regenerative farming practices can be challenging—for both companies and farmers. But it offers a viable pathway to advancing a range of key impact goals—from climate change to farmer livelihoods. By embracing regenerative agriculture and regenerative farming practices in their supply chains, companies take a step forward in balancing purpose and profit, realigning core business activities with sustainable impact.
Ready to make the transition to regenerative agriculture? Get in touch with a Sustainable Impact Strategist to learn how we can help your organization forge collaborative, market-led solutions to advance regenerative agriculture, combat food insecurity and waste, and boost the resilience of agricultural value chains.