What is Harmony?
Harmony is Mondelēz International’s European sustainable wheat sourcing program. Co-created along the wheat supply chain with farmers, cooperatives and millers, the program seeks the commitment of partner farmers to follow sustainable practices to cultivate wheat.
It is a partnership with local farmers located as close as possible to our biscuit factories. The Harmony farmers choose to conserve water, care for the soil, protect biodiversity and reduce carbon emissions, and stand to increase income by doing so.
How did the Harmony program start?
The program was set up 10 years ago in France by employees who helped us create a vision that would improve our business, our biscuits and our impact on the environment.
We know from life cycle analyses that the majority of the environmental impact of our products comes from the raw materials. But 2/3 of our raw materials are cereals, and primarily wheat. Wheat is the largest food crop in the world, but wheat farming is particularly vulnerable to climate change: as water resources become scarcer, the use of chemical treatments increases as do carbon emissions. This is why we created this innovative wheat program, which combines partnership with farmers, cooperatives and millers, quality wheat cultivation and respect for local biodiversity.
As Europe’s largest biscuit baker, we can play a role in tackling challenges like climate change and resource shortages by promoting sustainable farming practices and improving biodiversity in our supply chain. In doing so, we contribute to creating a fairer, more transparent and integrated supply chain, in which good quality for consumers means a good impact on farmers and society.
What are the key aspects of your approach?
The Harmony program is based on strong commitments:
- Mobilizing partner farmers
Under the Harmony charter, the wheat product is cultivated with partner farmers located as close as possible to our production sites. For the 2017 harvest, around 1,700 farmers worked with us in 6 countries (Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Poland and Spain).
- Applying a demanding Quality and Environment Charter
The objective of the Harmony Charter is to encourage the production of quality wheat and limit its impact on the environment and biodiversity, only using treatments as a last resort. It consists of demanding practices covering every stage in the cultivation of wheat (selection of the best varieties of wheat, choice of plots). Every year, the Harmony Charter is reviewed and incorporated into increasingly demanding practices to ensure quality and protect the environment.
- Taking action for Biodiversity
The majority of the fruits and vegetables that we eat depend on pollinating insects, which transport their pollen from flower to flower, enabling their reproduction and therefore the production of most fruits (cherries, melons, etc.) and vegetables (eggplants, beans, etc.).
With Harmony we are participating, at our level, in the preservation of this local biodiversity: 3% of wheat-growing fields are dedicated to a flowered area, which provides bees and butterflies with the pollen and nectar they need to survive.
We have implemented biodiversity indicators which are monitored every year (changes in number of honeybees and wild bees, numbers of butterfly species, etc.) in order to ensure that the flowered areas have a genuine positive impact on local biodiversity.
What agricultural method is used to produce Harmony wheat?
The Harmony program is a partnership with farmers in order to grow wheat according to sustainable agricultural practices that are more respectful of the environment and local biodiversity.
The good agricultural practices of the Harmony program cover every stage in the wheat life cycle and incorporates:
- Agricultural practices that are more environmentally friendly:
Examples: Selecting plots for growing wheat based on previous cultivation, wheat varieties and tillage in order to ensure the quality of our wheat and limit the future use of treatments, in particular against fusariosis; Adapting the date and density of sowings using decision-making tools to optimize growing conditions and limit the use of treatments.
- Specific Harmony requirements for local biodiversity:
Example: Preserve local biodiversity by dedicating 3% of Harmony wheat plots to a flowered area to attract and feed pollinating insects.
Why not choose organic?
At Mondelēz International, we want the wheat we grow under the Harmony program to be accessible to as many people as possible. That was the reason for creating the Harmony Charter.
With Harmony, our objective is to reduce the environmental footprint of Mondelēz International biscuits. We can achieve a better environmental impact by offering a more environmentally friendly wheat across all our products, rather than focusing on one small organic range.
The Harmony Charter represents a middle ground between conventional and organic agriculture. We allow for some pesticide use – but only as a last resort and with each use requiring justification. The Harmony Charter is improving every year, with a more restrictive list of authorized products, and more proactive actions that support local biodiversity.
How do you ensure strict compliance with the charter by your partners?
Compliance with the Harmony Charter is ensured via:
- Technical advice provided by cooperatives to farmers at each key stage in the cultivation of the wheat.
- The recording of every intervention carried out on a wheat plot on the cultivation sheet, which contains a statement of every treatment applied, doses, the justification, etc.
- External inspections organized every year for 10% of farmers and 100% of cooperatives and millers. The cooperatives themselves also carry out internal inspections of farmers.
Do you use Genetically Modified (GMO) wheat?
Our supply policy completely excludes Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). As part of the Harmony program, we use around thirty different varieties of wheat, which enables us to create blends that are suitable for our various recipes. Our partner farmers are required to select certified or first-generation non-GMO wheat seeds that are recommended for their disease resistance and suitable for the production of our various biscuits.
Are the farmers remunerated?
Yes, our partner farmers receive a premium. They are rewarded for their efforts:
- Compliance with demanding growing practices.
- In particular, dedicating 3% of their wheat fields to a flowered area.
But in addition to this premium, partner farmers have signed up for this program because it:
- Promotes their industry.
- Gives them a feeling of pride to participate in a sustainable program covering consumers’ favorite biscuits
- Is environmentally friendly.