In a world first, American food company Kraft has made its footprint on climate change, land and water use public.
The project provides initial details of the impact the company is having on the environment, and also included how is validates focus on sustainable agriculture.
Together with Quantis Inc, the company produced the results that were then analysed by the World Wildlife Fund and academics from the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment.
"Having the ‘big picture’ of our total footprint, from farm to fork, validates the focus of our sustainability efforts, particularly advancing sustainable agriculture," Roger Zellner, Sustainability Director for Research, Development & Quality said.
"Experts say climate change, land and water use may be among the biggest challenges in feeding a world of 9 billion people in 2050.
“As we continue our sustainability journey, we now have more insight into where we can make the greatest difference."
Dave McLaughlin, vice president of Agriculture at World Wildlife Fund said the research is an example of the impact big business is having on the environment.
"This study shows that in order to make meaningful change and conserve nature’s valuable resources, companies need to work with their suppliers to reduce the impact of producing raw materials," he said.
"This means forging long term partnerships based on shared objectives, creating a transformational supply chain, a key strategy of WWF’s market transformation initiative."
The majority of Kraft Foods’ environmental footprint originates on the farms that grow ingredients for the company’s products, according to the report.
While the company doesn’t own the farms, the survey supports the work of its sustainable agriculture efforts on key commodities to improve crop yields, reduce environmental impacts and improve the lives of many of the farm workers and their families.
Following success with initial introductions, the company is also continuing to improve energy, carbon dioxide, water, waste and packaging reductions.
Off the back of reports Kraft is slashing 200 jobs at British confectionary company Cadbury, which it acquired in 2007, the company plans to include it in the sustainability changes.
While it is spending $AU76 million on the Cadbury business to improve machinery and facilities, the company has copped criticism for the planned job cuts, mostly because it promised not to slash jobs when it acquired the business.
But the contract which contained that promise expires in March 2012, and the company will make the changes soon after.
By the end of 2015 Kraft Foods plans to increase sustainable sourcing of agricultural commodities by 25 percent, reduce energy use in manufacturing plants by 15 percent, reduce energy-related CO2 emissions in manufacturing plants by 15 percent and reduce water consumption in manufacturing plants by 15 percent.
It also wants to reduce waste at manufacturing plants by 15 percent, eliminate 50,000 metric tons of packaging material and reduce 80 million km (50 million miles) from its transportation network.
The company has shown progress on its 2005-2010 goals, with water, waste and energy use down in the period.
The report also found more than 90 percent of the carbon footprint is outside its plants and offices, and nearly 60 percent is from farm commodities, about 12 percent of the carbon footprint is from transportation and distribution of products from stores to consumers’ homes and about 5 percent of the carbon footprint is from consumers, mostly in food preparation.