Danone Takes A Stand For Regenerative Agriculture And Shares Its Journey

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Danone, the parent company of Dannon, Silk, Activia, Evian, and other food companies, shared a thread on Twitter about regenerative agriculture. The company stated that through agriculture, we have the power to act towards a healthier and more sustainable food system and that it believes that regenerative agriculture (RegAg) can play a key role in fighting climate change while creating more inclusive societies.

In the Twitter thread, Danone shared some of its milestones and key impacts. The company’s journey started in 2017 and it has worked with farmers and partners to convert over 150,000 hectares to RegAg, which now represents a positive 12% of its direct sourcing. Due to its progress in RegAg, the company reduced 50% of its carbon in 2020.

What Is RegAg?

Danone defined RegAg as a set of farming practices that protects sow water, respects the welfare of animals, and acknowledges the key roles of farmers as well as the positive impacts of farming while taking into account the economic viability of farming.

Regeneration International gives a bit more detail into the definition:

“Regenerative Agriculture describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle.”

In a report that Danone shared in the Twitter thread, the company spoke of the dual nature of agriculture. On one side, it can degrade resources, while on the other, it can regenerate them. Soil, it stated, can be a powerhouse in drawing excess carbon from the atmosphere, absorbing excess rainwater, and fostering biodiversity. The report cited a Boston Consulting Group survey which had over 3,000 respondents around the world take part. The survey found that 70% of the participants are more aware now than before the covid-19 pandemic that human activity threatens the environment. 75% of the respondents agreed that environmental issues are as concerning as health issues — so it’s not surprising that consumers are choosing sustainable goods at a rate that has increased by 71% since 2016.

Danone’s Solution To The Challenges Of Agriculture Is RegAg

Danone wants to transform agriculture from a challenge to a solution. Some of the challenges of agriculture include 70% of freshwater use, being a source of one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions globally, threatening one million animal and plant species with extinction, and degrading 33% of the world’s soils — just to name a few things.

The solution Danone proposes with RegAg will include increasing the carbon content of the world’s soil by 2%. This would return greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to safe levels. The company also noted that organically managed soil has a 20–40% higher water holding capacity compared to conventionally managed soils. And in some areas, water springs that have dried up many years ago have started flowing again thanks to regenerative farming.

In 2018, Danone worked with WWF France along with other experts to define a holistic approach that will benefit nature, people, and animals. The group lists these three principles at the core of RegAg:

  1. Restoring soil. This will help it draw carbon from the atmosphere, strengthen biodiversity, and retain more water.
  2. Support next-gen farmers. They aim to do this by giving the next generation of farmers and farmworkers the knowledge and tools they need while educating them on RegAg and how it’s economically viable.
  3. Respecting Animal Welfare. Securing the welfare of animals — especially those playing a key role in healthy ecosystems.

Danone emphasized the importance of these core principles and how they owe a debt to the Indigenous peoples while building upon traditional methods yet incorporating current technology such as artificial intelligence.

“These three working in synergy are critical if we are to reverse climate change and create more just and human food systems. Regenerative agriculture owes a great debt to Indigenous peoples, which have maintained farming practices in harmony with nature even as they were abandoned by conventional agriculture. It builds on traditional methods like intercropping and polycultures while aiming to maximize impact and scale, including through technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.”

The company noted that farmers and farm workers are the key leaders in the transition to RegAg and that it is committed to supporting them wherever they are on this journey. The company now has RegAg programs in the U.S., France, Spain, Mexico, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, and Romania and has converted over 150,000 hectares of land to RegAg, which is 12% of its direct sourcing. In the U.S., Danone has the most comprehensive regenerative dairy program in the country, on 82,000 acres now. It’s focusing on reducing tillage and chemical pesticides while expanding cover crops. So far, the program has reduced the equivalent of 80,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide and sequestered over 20,000 tons of carbon.

You can view Danone’s full report here.


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