In celebration of World Environment Day on June 5, Conagra Brands announced the winners of its annual Sustainable Development Awards, an employee-led program that encourages the development and implementation of innovative ideas related to sustainable production and business practices. This year, employees from across the organization submitted a record 211 sustainability-focused projects that conserve water, reduce waste and save energy, underscoring Conagra's commitment to nourishing and restoring the planet.  

Now in its 13th consecutive year, the 2022 Sustainable Development Awards projects generated the following results on an annual basis:

  • Decreased the company's carbon footprint by 7,600 metric tons.
  • Conserved 95 million gallons of water.
  • Reduced waste by 11,400 tons.

Sustainability initiatives are submitted by cross-functional employee project teams across seven categories: Sustainable Brands, Waste Reduction & Recycling, Water Conservation, Climate Change & Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Operations, and an overall Award of Excellence and People's Choice Award. All submissions are judged by a panel of company sustainability leaders and winners are selected by employee peers.

"Through our annual Sustainable Development Awards, our employees continue to find innovative ways to develop more environmentally-friendly operations and brands," said Sean Connolly, president and chief executive officer, Conagra Brands. "Our focused work to reduce our water use, waste and greenhouse gas emissions demonstrates our commitment to building a more sustainable future. Congratulations to all of those who submitted projects this year and met environmental challenges head on."

Award-winning employee teams help direct a total of $30,000 in grants from Conagra Brands to local sustainability-focused public service projects.

Conagra Brands' 2022 Sustainable Development Award winners are:

Sustainable Brands: Duncan Hines - Chicago and Centralia, Illinois
 By reducing the amount of palm oil in Duncan Hines' milk and dark chocolate flavors, the team was able to avoid the use of more than 797,000 pounds of palm oil.

Waste Reduction & Recycling: Imlay City, Michigan
 At Conagra's Vlasic pickle facility in Imlay City, the team eliminated 93 tons of waste by installing four level sensors to monitor the produce level on conveyors, automating the process by adjusting its speed to reduce excess waste.

Water Conservation: Irapuato, Mexico 
 Conagra's Irapuato team saved nine million gallons of water through measures such as implementing a water leak detection program, which allowed the team to identify and proactively address leaks.

Climate Change & Energy Efficiency: Marshall, Missouri
 Freezer blast cells at Conagra's Marshall facility had improper air flow and inefficiency of blast cell function. By adding baffles to the back of each rack column in the blast cells to force air flow through product pallets, it reduced freeze time, increased plant capacity and lowered electricity consumption by 5%.

Sustainable Operations: Troy, Ohio
 The Troy facility created a cross-functional team to work on a blend pairing strategy and a tool to document every step of the Slim Jim production process, determining moisture was the key variable to a more even cook. The project eliminated 5.6 tons of waste and generated in $1 million in cost savings.

People's Choice Award: Irapuato, Mexico
 At Conagra's Irapuato facility, the team installed 280 solar panels in their finished goods distribution center and 236 solar panels in their facility. The new solar panels generated 47% of total distribution center electricity consumption and 2.6% of total electricity consumption at the facility. In addition, this project eliminated 278 metric tons of Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions.

Award of Excellence: Fayetteville, Arkansas
 The team in Fayetteville identified efficiencies when operating broilers within the facility. Instead of operating the boiler house with all three boilers at the same set points, the facility utilizes set points to have one boiler running near 100% capacity before ramping up the second boiler, all while having the third boiler turned off. The project saved 27,000 decatherms of natural gas.

About Conagra Brands
Conagra Brands, Inc., headquartered in Chicago, is one of North America's leading branded food companies. Guided by an entrepreneurial spirit, Conagra Brands combines a rich heritage of making great food with a sharpened focus on innovation. The company's portfolio is evolving to satisfy people's changing food preferences. Conagra's iconic brands, such as Birds Eye, Duncan Hines, Healthy Choice, Marie Callender's, Reddi-wip, and Slim Jim, as well as emerging brands, including Angie’s BOOMCHICKAPOP, Duke's, Earth Balance, Gardein, and Frontera, offer choices for every occasion.