Skip to content

Cookies 🍪

This site uses cookies that need consent.

The AgWater Challenge

The AgWater Challenge, led by Ceres and World Wildlife Fund, engaged major companies with significant agricultural supply chains on water stewardship.

Valuing Water Finance Initiative

While the AgWater Challenge has officially retired, the company commitments live on. There is still work to be done to scale up efforts, improve collective action in shared watersheds, and reduce companies’ impacts to water quality. Ceres continues to support this work through the Valuing Water Finance Initiative, a global investor-led effort engaging companies to improve water management practices.

Learn more

AgWater Challenge Company Commitments

Participating companies set time-bound and measurable commitments to reduce the water impacts associated with key agricultural commodities, implementing locally-relevant sustainable agricultural strategies to mitigate risk in agricultural areas where water is scarce or polluted, supporting and incentivizing farmers to strengthen water stewardship practices, and engaging in collective watershed action.

2021 commitments

Danone North America, based in Denver, Colorado, produces plant-based foods and beverages, premium dairy products and organic salads, fruits and vegetables. A member of the AgWater Challenge since 2016, Danone’s renewed commitments to water stewardship include:

• Committing to expanding efforts that promote soil health and water outcomes on 82,000 acres in existing programs and on an additional 18,000 acres in regions across the US—by 2025. The efforts will focus on dairy feed and almonds, two commodities that represent the largest share of our parent company’s global exposure to water risks.

• Offering incentive programs that will cover 100% of acres and farmers associated with this commitment by 2025, including technical assistance through EcoPractices Assessments and support for farmers to identify and secure financial assistance to foster practice adoption.

• Participating in collective watershed action in high water risk watersheds via collaboration with appropriate NGOs

2021 commitments

Ingredion, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, makes sweeteners, starches, nutrition ingredients and biomaterials. Ingredion’s commitments include:

• Committing to adoption of regenerative agricultural practices on 500,000 acres of corn, tapioca, potato, pulses, and stevia grown in high-risk watersheds by 2027, and across 1 million acres by 2030. This acreage represents about 30% of total global sourcing.

• Providing technical assistance to farmers through Ingredion agronomists, training programs designed to share efficient farming practices and their potential economic benefits, and implementation support for technological improvements.

• Collaborating with the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform (SAI Platform), and its member organizations on the development of a food and beverage industry regenerative agriculture standard, planned to be completed by 2022. Participating in collective watershed action through collaboration with customers and/or appropriate NGOs, such as Field to Market and the Thai Tapioca Starch Association.

2021 commitments

Mars, Incorporated, headquartered in McLean, Verginia, is a global food, confectionery, and petcare company. Mars’ commitments include:

• Supporting adoption of sustainable agriculture practices and programs on over 40,000 additional rice acres high risk watersheds in U.S. and Spain by 2025 for Ben’s Original™. This represents half of the rice produced in these regions.

• Providing education programs, an incentive program for suppliers and farmers, and co-funding water efficiency programs for growers and agricultural suppliers.

• Targeting a minimum annual score of 90% on the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) standard from farmers supplying Mars to ensure water outcomes and supporting a multi-stakeholder project, Oryzonte, in Spain, which promotes sustainable agricultural practices in nutrient and chemical use, develops recommendations for policy makers, and enhances cultivation to optimize water use.

2019 commitments

Driscoll’s, based in Watsonville, California, is the world’s largest berry company. Their commitments, with highlights below, set water stewardship goals for their Americas business unit which encompasses 80% of their global acreage.

• Complete water risk assessments for all existing and new growing regions in the Americas and integrate them into the company’s fruit supply planning process by end of 2021.

• Create a water policy and framework by the end of 2020 which encompasses regional risk assessment, stakeholder impact and engagement, public policy engagement, roles and responsibilities, critical issues and responses, and internal targets and goals.

• Identify key water impacts and set new goals to reduce water impacts in each high-risk sourcing region.

• Provide training for every grower and functionally relevant employee in highest risk districts, with additional training and resources to be provided to growers who wish to engage in water management planning at the community level.

• Convene company peers in California regions (e.g. buyers, producers) to share learnings from California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act implementation and develop a common voice of support around the successful implementation of Groundwater Sustainability Plans.

• Implement relevant regional programs and BMPs that help meet groundwater sustainability plans in California and support stakeholder activities that ensure high quality water is accessible, affordable and reliable to all members of the community.

2018 commitments

Target, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is general merchandise retailer that serves guests at more than 1,800 stores. As the first retailer to join the AgWater Challenge, Target’s commitments to improve water stewardship include:

• Promoting sustainable water management in California as an active member of the California Water Action Collaborative, and by engaging collectively with other companies to support public policies that advance resilient water solutions through Ceres’ Connect the Drops initiative .

• Collaborating with suppliers through the Field to Market Fieldprint Platform to address soil health issues, developing time-bound, measurable goals to improve soil health across corn and soy acres and ensure progress on water quality is made by reducing agricultural runoff in the Mississippi River Basin.

• Supporting future development of small grains and cover crops grown in rotation with corn and soybeans, as part of a collaboration with Practical Farmers of Iowa and Sustainable Food Lab. The project seeks to develop a market solution for climate and water protection in the Corn Belt and engage key supply chain partners on associated feasibility studies.

2018 commitments

The Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), based in Chicago, Illinois, has a global value chain that includes approximately 500 crop procurement locations, 270 food and feed ingredient manufacturing facilities, 44 innovation centers and the world’s premier crop transportation network. ADM's commitments include:

• Ensuring that by 2022 at least 10 percent of U.S. wheat processing volume comes from farmers who are measuring and monitoring the environmental footprint of their farming practices. Through these Field to Market projects, the company will establish a baseline and work with Agrible and growers to increase acres using cover crops and alternative tilling practices by 25 percent each.

• Incentivizing participation in the Illinois Saving Tomorrow’s Agriculture Resources (STAR) program, a farmer certification program aligned with the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy. As a part of this program, ADM seeks to have a minimum of 50 farmers in the region surrounding its Decatur processing facility complete the STAR survey in 2018. By 2028, it seeks to have farmers representing 50 percent of acres enrolled in this program earning 3 out of 5 stars and 25 percent earning the maximum number of stars.

• Providing educational and financial support to all farmers that participate in these projects across corn, soy and wheat acres. This includes direct financial incentives for all farmers, as well as a grant to the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts to support education efforts and adoption of conservation practices.

2016 commitments

Hormel Foods, based in Austin, Minnesota, is a multinational manufacturer and marketer of consumer-branded food and meat products, specializing in processing and marketing pork and turkey. Commitments include:

• Develop in the next three months a sustainable agriculture policy that will require all direct suppliers, contract animal growers and feed grain growers to meet best environmental practices for reducing water pollution risks, including with respect to the storage, transport and application of animal manure.

• Complete by February 2017, with a reputable third-party: 1) a high-level water risk assessment for its largest direct suppliers, contract growers and for key agricultural inputs produced in high water risk regions and 2) an in-depth assessment of water quantity and quality challenges in priority sourcing areas.

• Support and engage with suppliers and growers, including contract growers and animal feed growers, in high water risk regions by gathering water-related data and establishing time bound goals aimed at improving water quality.

2016 commitments

PepsiCo, headquartered in Purchase, New York, is one of the world’s leading food and beverage companies. Commitments include:

• Improve the water-use efficiency of its direct agricultural supply chain (citrus, corn, oats and potatoes) by 15% in high-water-risk sourcing areas, based on a 2015 baseline.

• Achieve water-use efficiency goals through education and training, including on the design and operation of drip irrigation systems, methods of irrigation scheduling, and optimal application of fertilizer.

• Sustainably source direct agricultural raw materials by 2020; and by 2025 seek to sustainably source non-direct major agricultural raw material ingredients.

• Evaluate effectiveness of sustainable sourcing goals through PepsiCo’s Sustainable Farming Initiative (SFI). SFI establishes environmentally responsible practices for growers including specific criteria on water quantity, quality and soil health, in addition to supporting farmer yields, livelihoods and advancing respect for workers’ human rights.

• Identify opportunities for collaborative action and advocacy in high water risk priority watersheds.

2016 commitments

Diageo, based in London, England, is a global leader in beverage alcohol. Commitments include:

• Launched in 2015, the Diageo Water Blueprint defines the company’s strategic approach to water stewardship. The integrated approach is based on four core areas: raw materials sourcing, operations, the communities where it operates, and local and global advocacy for best practice in water stewardship.

• Committed, by 2020, to establish partnerships with farmers to develop sustainable agricultural supplies of key six raw materials, reaching 90% of raw materials purchased: Barley, Maize, Agave, Aniseed, Sugar/Molasses, and Sorghum/Cassava.

• Committed, by 2020, to equip its suppliers with tools to protect water resources in the most water stressed locations in seven African countries.

• Committed, by 2020, to ensure sustainable water stewardship on 100% of owned agricultural land.

• Created a sustainable agriculture policy encompassing key water indicators: water efficiency, improving efficient water management in water stressed locations, assisting producers with better management of inputs like fertilizer and pesticides to protect biodiversity, and enhancing soil quality.

2016 commitments

General Mills, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a leading global food company. Commitments include:

• Committed to champion development of water stewardship plans by 2025 for the company’s most material and at-risk watersheds in its global value chain. Currently partnering with local stakeholders on sustainable sourcing in several high water risk regions through collective action and policy advocacy. This includes field level work in the Los Angeles and San Joaquin watersheds (through the California Water Action Collaborative) and in the Snake River Basin in Idaho, as well as policy advocacy as a signatory of Ceres’ Connect the Drops campaign.

• Worked with WWF and the Rainforest Alliance to complete a comprehensive risk assessment, including water use and water quality risks, of all raw materials bought worldwide; identified 10 priority raw materials.

• Committed to sustainably source its top 10 ingredients (palm oil, fiber packaging, wheat, oats, sugar beets, vanilla, cocoa, dairy, corn and sugarcane) representing more than 50% of raw material purchases, by 2020.

• Working with Field to Market, Canadian Fieldprint, the Dairy Sustainability Framework to sustainably source wheat, oats, sugar beets, dairy, and corn.

• With The Nature Conservancy (TNC) completed a global water risk assessment of all its production facilities and growing regions, identifying 8 high-risk watersheds.

• Committed to improving the sustainability of water use throughout its supply chain.

2016 commitments

Kellogg is the world's leading cereal company; second largest producer of cookies, crackers and savory snacks; and a leading North American frozen foods company. Commitments include:

• Committed to responsibly source by 2020 its global 10 priority ingredients (including rice, wheat, corn and sugar beets), by measuring continuous improvement for row crops through metrics focused on water, fertilizer use and other factors aligned with industry standards and measurement tools, such as Field to Market.

• Supporting 17,000 agricultural suppliers, millers and farmers across 22 different countries to optimize water use and enhance watershed quality, such as by providing financial and agronomic assistance. (Examples include the Louisiana Master Grower Program, Thai rice project, and Bangladeshi potato suppliers.)

• Committed to improve the livelihoods of half a million farmers by advancing
climate and water smart agriculture practices that help them produce more using fewer natural resources.

• Setting suppliers’ expectations to support CSR commitments (see supplier code and resource guide); responsible sourcing is included in the Kellogg supplier scorecard and is also integrated into sourcing events.

• Setting expectations with procurement category managers by embedding responsible sourcing commitments into annual incentive plans and measuring performance against set goals, which are tied to annual compensation.

Never miss an alert

Sign up for the latest news and updates from Ceres.