We actively invest in the communities in which our vanilla is grown.

In Madagascar, 660 vanilla growers and their 2,640 family members benefit from our investments.

Madagascar is the world’s leading vanilla producer – more than 90 percent of production – and our primary source of the premium vanilla used in Häagen-Dazs ice cream.

General Mills works with vanilla supplier Virginia Dare to improve farmer incomes as well as the quantity, quality and traceability of vanilla.

We also support efforts to improve food security. We funded construction of a storage warehouse in Belambo, located in Madagascar’s Sava region, that makes rice available to local families year-round at lower prices, regardless of market availability.

Smallholder program progress

In 2013, we launched a program in the village of Belambo to train farming families about vanilla production practices. 

Training includes teaching farmers how to cure the vanilla they grow – expertise that significantly increases their earnings.

In 2014, we began investing in communities in the southern section of the Sava region, including the village of Antananambo.

In 2015, we continued our support of programs in Belambo and the Sava region. We also worked with our supplier to review the impact of our investment in the communities.

Due to instability in the region, we did not expand the scope or reach of our local investments during this year, but are actively pursuing opportunities to scale our efforts in 2016.

Vanilla from these sites will help us meet our sustainable vanilla commitment by 2020.

Employee engagement

General Mills employees in Arras have developed an ongoing connection with the Belambo community, where vanilla is grown.

In 2015, employees from our Häagen- Dazs production facility in Arras, France, traveled to Belambo, Madagascar, to help inaugurate a new secondary school building and establish a committee to oversee the community library.


General Mills was a founding member in 2015 of the Sustainable Vanilla Initiative (SVI), an organization composed of food and flavoring companies, the Sustainable Food Lab, IDH (the sustainable trade development organization of the Dutch government) and the Malagasy government to promote sustainable vanilla production in Madagascar.

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2016 Annual Report

150 years of growth 

Global Responsibility

2016 report