Kellogg Co.’s dedication to real food and transparency helps the multi-national food manufacturer earn a seat at millions of tables every day.

“At our core, Kellogg believes that people should know what’s in their food and where it comes from. We believe that transparency is more than just a label, and we have invested in many ways to make it easy for consumers to find information about our food,” says Paul Norman, president of Kellogg North America.

But, it’s Kellogg’s compassion, care and initiative to make sustainability a vital part of the business that garnered the Battle Creek, Mich., company Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’ 2016 Sustainable Processor of the Year award.

Kellogg produces frozen Eggo waffles, frozen meatless, vegetarian products under the MorningStar Farms brand and Special K frozen breakfast sandwiches, among an array of shelf-stable breakfast and snack food items. It employs 33,000 people worldwide, operates five frozen food manufacturing facilities and placed No. 5 in the meals/entrées sector of Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’ Top 150 Frozen Food Processors report (March 2016 issue).

Here’s why transparency is Kellogg’s must-have ingredient.

Fast Facts

COMPANY: Kellogg Co.

HEADQUARTERS: Battle Creek, Mich.





PRODUCES: Frozen breakfast items, frozen meatless items.

RETAIL BRANDS: Eggo, MorningStar Farms, Special K, among an array of shelf-stable brands

Global sustainability commitments

“At Kellogg, we strive to make food people love. And today, that means more than food that tastes great,” says Diane Holdorf, chief sustainability officer. “People care about where their food comes from, the people who grow and make it and that there’s enough for everyone.”

That’s why Kellogg maintains its 2020 global sustainability commitments, developed to help the company continue enriching the world through foods and brands that matter, she adds. Kellogg’s 2020 commitments focus on responsible sourcing and the conservation of natural resources. 

“They include goals of helping to improve the livelihoods of farming families and communities who grow our ingredients, and giving our foods the best start possible by protecting the lands where our ingredients are grown and foods are made,” says Holdorf.

For example, Kellogg is committed to reducing energy and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by an additional 15% (per metric ton of food produced) from 2015 performance. Kellogg is also committed to increasing its use of low carbon energy (renewable energy such as solar, wind, hydro and fuel cell technology, which helps to power its San Jose, Calif., Eggo waffle plant) in plants by 50%.

Kellogg supports healthy watersheds by working with growers on best management practices to reduce runoff such as in the Saginaw Bay Watershed, part of the Great Lakes region in Michigan. Kellogg also implemented water re-use projects in 25% of its plants to circulate cooling water, closed loop cooling water systems and recovery and re-use for other purposes such as irrigation.

At Kellogg, less than 3% of its total waste ends up in a landfill. Its focus on recycling and re-use means that 97% is recycled or sold to livestock operators to be used for animal feed. As part of its 2020 commitments, Kellogg will increase to 30% number of plants globally sending zero waste to landfill.

Kellogg is also committed to doing its part to help achieve zero net deforestation from tropical forests. As a result, it will maintain its commitment to using 100% timber-based packaging from either recycled content or from certified sustainable sources. Kellogg also utilizes a sustainable packaging framework that focuses on improving performance in the package-to-food ratio, percent recycled material content and percent materials that are commonly recoverable.

Meanwhile, Kellogg announced 2050 targets to reduce GHG through science-based targets aligned with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Switzerland.

“We will, for the first time, engage all material direct suppliers, which represent 80% of total spend, including those who supply our ingredients, to reduce emissions in our extended supply chain by 50% by 2050 from the 2015 baseline,” says Holdorf. “We will gather data through the carbon disclosure project supply chain and publically disclose progress annually.”

New Calculator Measures Environmental Impact of Eating Less Meat

Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich., and its MorningStar Farms meatless veggie brand launched the Veg Effect Calculator, an innovative tool to help consumers see the impact a veggie meal can create on the environment.

With a few simple calculations, consumers can determine how their personal food choices;and the food choices of their friends, families and geographic regions—can affect the impact on the environment.

In fact, by eating a meatless meal instead of one with meat per week for a year, consumers would save 3,600 gallons of water, 1,000 square feet of land and 184 car miles in greenhouse gas emissions per person, according to a new Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) released by MorningStar Farms

MorningStar Farms is passionate about creating products that will change not just the way people eat, but also the world,” says Todd Smith, director of brand and innovation marketing. “We’re on a mission to show people the many different ways to veg, and how even one simple change can lead to a world of difference. To bring this to life, we encourage folks to try out the Veg Effect Calculator and share it with their family and friends.

Go to to learn more about the Veg Effect Calculator.

Plant improvements

In late 2013, Kellogg installed on-site fuel cell technology at its San Jose frozen Eggo waffles plant, which generates 1 megawatt of electricity and reduces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by ~980 metric tons and utility water use by more than 7 million gallons of water annually. The San Jose facility also experienced a reduction in water usage (per metric ton of food produced) more than 20% since 2005, mainly through employee engagement, education and behavior change. The plant also achieved a reduction in waste-to-landfill usage (per metric ton of food produced) more than 75% since 2009, through employee engagement, education and increased recycling.

Kellogg’s Blue Anchor, N.J., Eggo facility is one of its zero waste-to-landfill locations, which means it sends less than 1% of waste to landfill each year, capturing what little waste is generated for recycling, re-use or animal feed. 

At its MorningStar Farms facility in Zanesville, Ohio, Kellogg installed a reverse osmosis system followed by a zeolite softener on the boiler to improve the quality of the feed water. This enables the water to be re-circulated up to 50 times, thus reducing the facility’s water use by more than 17% in 2014. The Zanesville plant also reduced its energy usage and GHG emissions (per metric ton of food produced) more than 20% since 2005, mainly through projects such as lighting, hot water and boiler system upgrades.

Social responsibility

“At Kellogg, we believe that every child deserves to start the day with the power of breakfast, and we’re making it happen,” says Jodi Gibson, vice president, corporate social responsibility.

To realize these benefits, kids must have access to breakfast. That’s why in 2013, Kellogg launched a Breakfasts for Better Days initiative, where Kellogg and its Corporate Citizenship Fund pledged to donate 1 billion servings of cereal and snacks—more than half of which are breakfast—by the end of 2016. 

“Through this effort, we’re helping to make breakfasts available in schools because we know it is the most effective way to get this important meal and the nutrition it can bring to hungry kids,” adds Gibson. “We’re helping to make breakfast available at home by donating cereal and other foods to families in need.”

By the end of 2015, Kellogg donated 1.4 billion servings of cereal and snacks to children and families in need, thus exceeding its goal to provide 1 billion servings by 2016.

As part of its ongoing dedication to corporate responsibility, Kellogg announced plans to source only cage-free eggs by the end of 2025. In addition, Kellogg will consider the “Five Freedoms” of animal welfare, an internationally recognized set of humane treatment principles, as part of its process to continuously improve its supply chain in the future.

Kellogg uses eggs in some of its foods, including Eggo frozen breakfast items and MorningStar Farms frozen veggie foods. In fact, Kellogg has already reduced its use of eggs from caged hens in MorningStar Farms products by 20 million eggs since 2007, and by the end of 2016, will switch 1 million more cage-free eggs within its MorningStar Farms brand.

“Even though we are a grains-based company and use very few animal products in our foods, we understand that we have a role to play in influencing responsible behavior throughout our supply chain,” says Norman. “[This] announcement allows us to lead positive change in a way we know gives consumers more of what they want from brands and companies—a strong focus on social responsibility.”

Employee safety, food safety, plant safety

“Kellogg’s reputation is dependent upon the safety and quality of the foods we make and sell around the world,” says Holdorf.

That’s why its Kellogg Food Safety Plan is founded on the comprehensive HACCP food safety system, integrating all food safety programs into one plan. 

“We have voluntarily participated in the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) since 2009, and require all of our manufacturing plants and our contract manufacturing facilities to be GFSI-certified,” Holdorf adds. “We also require GFSI certification and a Kellogg internal audit for all ingredient suppliers.”

Keeping employees safe at work is central to Kellogg’s K Values. As a result, leadership and its environment, health and safety management (EHS) system enables strong safety culture led by a focus on hazard and risk recognition and mitigation, as well as knowledge and skill building. 

“We measure our progress through two key metrics—total recordable incident rate (TRIR) and lost time incident rate (LTIR),” says Lisa Vanderhulst, senior director, EHS. “While our safety performance has steadily improved in recent years, as measured by a downward trend in these rates, we did experience a slight uptick in incidents in 2015. Still, our TRIR of 1.2 remains significantly better than the industry average, which stood at 5.1 in 2014, the latest figure available. We always work to improve safety habits, emphasize safe behaviors and provide in-depth investigation and coaching to prevent future injuries.”

Environmental efforts

Kellogg continuously works to improve the energy efficiency methods of transporting supplies to its facilities and its foods to market. In the United States, the Kellogg-operated truck fleet and 97% of its contracted truck fleet are enrolled in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay program, a partnership among government, business and consumers to help reduce fuel use and improve air quality.

In 2016, five of Kellogg’s bakeries received USEPA Energy Star Certifications for achieving Top 25% of energy performance for their industry nationwide. Four of these plants have received this certification for several years running. 

Kellogg also partners to bring attention to sustainability, hunger and food safety through involvement with governments, NGOs and global organizations such as Field to Market, Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy, the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference and the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP21), a global climate conference.

Additionally, on April 22, 2015, plant employees from the Blue Anchor site, along with EHS team members, dedicated the first Earth Day Tree Planting Ceremony.
“At many of our facilities in the U.S. and around the world, we have grassroots employee engagement teams, often called GoGreen Teams, that work to engage and educate employees in the areas of both social responsibility and sustainability,” says Holdorf.

Packaging reduction

With regards to sustainable packaging, the MorningStar Farms division is always looking for ways to improve its footprint. That’s why it introduced new flexible packaging with resealability.

“Our change to the bag enabled us to reduce the packaging and display tray materials by an average of 38%,” says Holdorf. “Our research has shown that reducing packaging weight is one of the most impactful ways to improve sustainability, as weight directly affects the raw material, production, transportation and waste aspects of environmental impact. And, we know our consumers care.”

Kellogg’s ability to provide transparency and maintain sustainable practices are the must-have ingredients to producing food consumers love.

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’ editor-in-chief Marina Mayer will present the 2016 Sustainable Processor of the Year award at the 2016 Food Logistics Forum. Go to to learn more.