Five private companies helping to reduce hunger

Pepsico, Kraft, Cargill, Land O' Lakes, and TNT Express are among many companies that have created nonprofit divisions to help alleviate hunger in developing countries.

Luc Gnago/Reuters/File
A man gathers bags of cocoa beans at the Cargill factory in San Pedro, the main exporting cocoa port in the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire in West Africa. Cargill is just one of many international companies that have a nonprofit division aimed at helping the developing world.

You’re probably familiar with PepsiCo’s bubbly beverages and crunchy snacks, but did you know that the famous food company is also working to improve crop yields in Ethiopia?

Many for-profit enterprises have added a nonprofit division to their work, enabling them to use their private economic resources for public good.

Today, Nourishing the Planet highlights five private companies that are helping to reduce hunger around the world:

RELATED: Top 5 Millennium Development Goal success stories

1. Kraft Foods Inc.: As one of the world’s largest food companies, Kraft Foods Inc. produces dozens of familiar brands, including Oreo, Nabisco, Kraft, Cadbury, and Maxwell House. Through its community involvement initiatives, Kraft Foods Inc. has donated more than $770 million worth of cash and food in the past 25 years and has also partnered with organizations such as Feeding America, INMED Partnerships for Children, and the National Latino Children’s Institute to bring about programs that encourage healthy lifestyles and community service. These programs include Salsa, Sabor, y Salud (Food, Fun & Fitness), a program that teaches Latino families about the importance of healthy food choices and physically active lifestyles, and Kraft’s 2010 Delicious Difference Week, in which Kraft employees in 56 different countries partnered with nonprofit organizations to plant community gardens, build playgrounds, serve the hungry, and more.

Kraft Foods Inc. in action: Kraft’s Health in Action (Ação Saudável) program (formed in 2010 through a partnership between Kraft Foods Foundation and INMED Partnerships for Children) is based in Brazil and plans to ultimately reach approximately 675,000 people by creating school gardens, helping families grow their own fruits and vegetables, and educating people on nutrition, hygiene, and active play. Nicole Robinson, vice president of the Kraft Foods Foundation, calls the program “truly transformative,” as “it empowers children, teachers, and the entire school. And it reaches into the community to help people address the issues around hunger and healthy lifestyles for themselves.”

2. Land O’ Lakes Inc.: The company is best known for its butter and other dairy products, but Land O’ Lakes Inc. is also the United Statessecond-largest cooperative, having been member-owned and directed since 1921. The company’s nonprofit division, Land O’Lakes International Development, uses the company’s “practical experience and in-depth knowledge to facilitate market-driven business solutions that generate economic growth, improve health and nutrition, and alleviate poverty.”

Land O’ Lakes Inc. in action: Land O’ Lakes partners with Tillers International in the Mozambique Food for Progress Program. The purpose of the program, according to its website, is to “begin rebuilding Mozambique’s dairy industry to meet market demand and to increase incomes for smallholder farmers through participation in a sustainable dairy value chain.” The organization also trains farmers to teach other farmers about proper animal care, weeding systems, cart making, road building, and other important skills. As a result, farmers are learning how to raise and utilize livestock to improve their incomes, diets, and crop productivity.

3. PepsiCo: PepsiCo produces more than just soda. In fact, it manufactures hundreds of brands of food and beverages around the world, including Frito-Lay, Quaker, and Tropicana products.  It also partners with the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to “dramatically increase chickpea production and promote long-term nutritional and economic security in Ethiopia,” among other programs.

PepsiCo in action: PepsiCo’s chickpea initiative, Enterprise EthioPEA, is part of PepsiCo’s strategy to become a global leader in sustainable agriculture. The program plans to improve the quality of Ethiopia’s chickpeas and increase yields by introducing more modern agricultural practices and irrigation techniques, such as use of better-quality seeds and drip irrigation, and considering important factors such as seasonality and the need to optimize soil quality. It also aims to address malnutrition by developing a “locally sourced, nutrient-rich, ready-to-use supplementary food" and wants to “scale up and strengthen the Ethiopian chickpea supply chain to harness the potential of a domestic and export market and increase the availability of locally produced nutritious products for consumers.”

4. TNT Express: TNT Express, an international express and cargo delivery company headquartered in Hoofddorp, Netherlands, serves more than 200 countries and employs more than 160,000 people. This corporation uses its specialization in transport to aid the WFP.

TNT Express in action: Through its Moving the World program, TNT Express donates its skills, knowledge, and resources to the WFP. Since 2003, TNT has supported the WFP with $83 million worth of cash, in-kind contributions such as airlifts, and staff deployment to help make food transport missions more efficient. The company has also deployed 12 airplanes to Haiti, Pakistan, and the Philippines in times of emergency.  

5.  Cargill: As an international producer and marketer of food and agricultural, financial, and industrial products and services, Cargill employs 142,000 people in 66 different countries. Cargill’s community investment initiatives feature several programs focused on alleviating hunger around the globe.

Cargill in action: As part of its “Nourishing People” challenge, Cargill donated $3.3 million to combat hunger around the world, and on World Food Day it challenged its businesses to reach out and assist local hunger relief organizations. The businesses rose to the challenge and participated in activities ranging from restocking food bank shelves in the US to building school kitchens in Honduras. Cargill’s six-year, $5.5 million commitment to the WFP also brings “food, medication, improved hygiene, and new drinking water wells to more than 30,000 children in 130 schools in Indonesia.”

• Eleanor Fausold is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project. 

This article originally appeared at Nourishing the Planet, a blog published by the Worldwatch Institute.

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