Kellogg’s Origins Programme Focus for Groundswell 2021

Kellogg’s Origins Programme Focus for Groundswell 2021

It was a chance encounter in 2012 that initially sowed the seed of the Kellogg’s Origins programme. I was introduced to Richard Burkinshaw who, at the time, was Kellogg’s European Environmental Manager. I distinctly remember Richard explaining that 80 percent of what Kellogg’s buys each year has a root on it at some point, whether corn, rice, wheat, or packaging. Yet as a business they had a limited connection with where the raw material came from or how it was grown.


Richard understood that if they were to take sustainability seriously, they needed to go beyond their own factory gates and really get to know the farmers who grow their raw materials, and then with humility and respect, look for ways in which Kellogg’s could engage and help growers improve – not just their environmental impact – but also their long-term productivity (aka profitability).


This is how the Origin’s programme was born. As we moved into 2013, we had designed the bare bones of a programme, but needed to engage with farmers to work-up the ideas in detail, and to find out what would be valuable in the field.


Working with two of Kellogg’s millers at the time, we held farmer workshops to introduce our ideas. The meetings went really well, even when we explained that we wouldn’t be paying a premium! Rather, we set out that the plan was to invest a considerable amount of money into activities that would help farmers improve, learn and potentially be more productive and sustainable.


Since these tentative beginnings, the Origin’s programme has achieved a great deal. At its heart is a move towards regenerative farming practices, but with a recognition that modern techniques including the efficient use of inorganic fertiliser and plant protection products are an important part of the mix.


Over the years since, we:

  • Have planted the biggest cover crop trial in the UK (if not Europe), supported by NIAB, who designed and delivered the trial on our behalf;
  • Have worked closely with GWCT who provide environmental support and over the last couple of years have run a very exciting insect trial;
  • Have trialled the use of different amendments;
  • Are currently looking at ways in which we can improve nitrogen utilisation working with Map of Ag;
  • Are exploring the use of drones to support agronomic decisions with DroneAg;
  • Have carried out a net zero carbon assessment on a growers farm
  • Have held dozens of meetings and visited sites across the UK and abroad in our endless quest to learn and improve;
  • Have most importantly, created a group of farmers who respect, trust and share with each other – usually late into the night over beers.


Has Kellogg’s been able to make a difference? Measuring change is challenging, but the answer is an emphatic yes. The best indicator of success is that those farmers who joined us all those years ago, are still with us today. Now working with Dave Fitzgerald, Head of Responsible Sourcing Europe for Kellogg’s, our emphasis is to share what we have leant with our farmers across the UK and beyond, which is why we are so excited to be sponsoring Groundswell this year.

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