Kraft's Full Eco-Footprint Shows Agriculture's Impacts

Kraft Foods is a huge company with an equally large environmental footprint.

As a food and beverage firm, it's not surprising that its biggest environmental impacts come from growing the raw materials that go into its portfolio of products, including Chips Ahoy, Boca, Triscuits and, of course, Macaroni and Cheese.

That's the top-line finding from a company initiative to map Kraft's carbon, water and land impacts. Kraft today released the findings, which were verified by World Wildlife Fund and the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment.

Agriculture accounts for nearly 60 percent of Kraft's total carbon footprint, more than 80 percent of its land impacts and 70 percent of its water footprint.

Manufacturing accounts for just a small slice, including 10 percent of Kraft's water footprint, and a negligible contribution to the company's land impacts.

Agriculture, however, has clearly been a target area for the company, which has vowed to increase sustainable sourcing of agricultural commodities by 25 percent by 2015.

The company is also looking beyond its four walls, such as a commitment to trim 50 million miles from its transportation network by 2015. According to its 2011 response to the Carbon Disclosure Project, Kraft's direct emissions, known as Scopes 1 and 2, totaled 3,319,396 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. But like many companies, these emissions make up just a small fraction -- less than 10 percent -- of its total carbon footprint, making the supply chain a prime target for mitigation.

Said Dave McLaughlin, World Wildlife Fund's vice president of Agriculture, said in a statement: "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."

Mac and cheese image via Shutterstock.