Growing Better Together: General Mills Considers Pre-Competitive Collaboration to Advance Sustainable Supply Chains

by: Andrew Hoffman

Publication Date: April 24, 2020
Length: 14 pages
Product ID#: 5-169-798

Core Disciplines: Social Impact, Strategy & Management, Sustainability

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Teaching Note

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It was mid-March 2019 and General Mills had just announced its commitment to advance regenerative agriculture practices on one million acres of farmland by 2030. It was an ambitious initiative but Kevin O’Donnell, General Mills’ global director for sourcing & operations sustainability, was focused on advancing this holistic method of farming in order to protect and enhance the world’s natural resources. Still, he wondered if his company could do more. He kept thinking about the 2018 Responsible Business Summit in New York City where he heard former Unilever CEO Paul Polman speak about a novel concept called pre-competitive collaboration.  O’Donnell thought this notion had the potential to enable an even more sustainable agricultural supply chain, not only for General Mills, but the entire cereal industry. Could he and his team successfully integrate pre-competitive collaboration into the regenerative agriculture initiative?

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Assess the pros and cons of the pre-competitive collaboration concept within the cereal industry.
  • Define regenerative agriculture and evaluate its potential benefits to the cereal industry’s supply chains.
  • Evaluate agricultural supply chain impacts associated with cereal firms’ sustainability initiatives.