New Tool: ProSource
Check out our packaging and processing solutions finder, ProSource.

Conagra Brands, Bob’s Red Mill, Smithfield Foods Are Sustainability Award Winners

The winners of ProFood World’s annual Sustainability Excellence in Manufacturing Awards are focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, electricity, and water, as well as food waste.

Quick hits:

  • No-cost food waste reduction project yields a $1 million payback for Conagra Brands
  • Bob’s Red Mill kept more than 385,000 pounds of edible food from going to waste
  • Smithfield Foods’ switch to reusable plastic shipping containers is projected to save over $1 million.  

Related to this episode:  

Listen to the story here:

Read article   Read the transcript below:

I’m Joyce Fassl, senior executive editor of ProFood World, with a Take Five update on Sustainability.

While many consumers look to retailers and product packaging to help them understand sustainability, the winners of ProFood World’s annual Sustainability Excellence in Manufacturing Awards are focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, electricity, and water, as well as food waste. 

These annual peer-reviewed awards recognize manufacturing plants for their efforts in driving improved performance through sustainability, honoring those companies and individuals that seek to go beyond environmental compliance. This year’s winners include Conagra Brands, Bob’s Red Mill Natural Products, and Smithfield Foods.

First place in the program category goes to a Conagra Brands’ plant that implemented a no-cost project that yielded a $1 million payback. The company’s Oakdale, Calif., facility makes Hunt’s and Ro-tel brands, and other food products. Over the past year, the facility’s cross functional team made excellent progress in reducing food waste. The team implemented a problem-solving program throughout 2021 to eliminate ingredient loss for both jalapeños and tomatoes. Savings were strictly through better use of available equipment resources and process improvements. 

For a second-place award in the program category, Bob's Red Mill Natural Products focused on wasted food rescue and materials management. By rescuing unavoidable scrap, the company is avoiding climate emissions that would occur downstream. Last year, Bob’s Red Mill kept more than 385,000 pounds of edible food from going to waste; upcycled 2,000 tons as animal feed instead of landfill or compost waste; and recycled more than 1,600 hundred tons of materials, such as cardboard, plastic, metal, and wood. In addition, food donations provided 161,000 thousand meals to those experiencing hunger in 2021.

Third place in the program Category goes to a pizza yield improvement Project at Conagra Brands. The company’s Troy, Ohio, team implemented a continuous improvement program on the site's bakery line when running pizza and set up new process and operating standards; organization; and line planning. Ongoing efforts are expected to deliver more than $325,000 in cost savings by improving yield loss by 13.4%, and eliminating 267,000 pounds of meat, cheese, and breading waste.

A first-place award in the project category goes to a Conagra Brands facility that saved nearly 9 million gallons of water. The main objective of the project at the Irapuato, Mexico, plant was the reduction of water consumption by identifying leaks, and improvements in the sweet corn process and canning process equipment. And, by completing sanitation more efficiently on various lines, the consumption of cleaning chemicals was reduced, resulting in greater production line availability.

A switch to plastic combos at Smithfield Foods is the second- place project category winner. Early in 2021, Smithfield Foods’ Milan, Missouri, plant started sending out hams for further processing, transporting them in cardboard combos. The facility quickly realized it could save money and reduce cardboard usage by employing reusable, plastic combos. The plant ordered 720 combos, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, energy, and landfill. The project is expected to save the plant over $1 million. 

Third place in the project category goes to a blast cell air optimization project. Degradation of freezer blast cells was resulting in improper air flow and inefficiency of the blast cell function at Conagra Brands’ Marshall, Missouri, facility. Repairs were made to air segregation, and baffle design was changed to reduce potential damage from forklift loading. The project will reduce the plant's electricity consumption by 5.7% and reduce the plant's Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions footprint by almost 1,300 metric tons. This project paid for itself in less than one year.

To learn how to enter the Sustainability Excellence in Manufacturing awards, click on the link on your screen.

Thanks for joining us for this edition of Take Five.

Test Your Smarts
Take ProFood World's food safety quiz to prove your knowledge!
Read More
Test Your Smarts
How Can You Honor a Leader?
Induction into the Packaging & Processing Hall of Fame is the highest honor in our industry. Submit your leader to be considered for the Class of 2024 now through June 10th. New members will be inducted at PACK EXPO International in Chicago.
Read More
How Can You Honor a Leader?