Diageo serves up fresh African supply chain sustainability efforts

Drinks giant unveils plans to increase spending on local raw materials in updated sustainable agriculture strategy

Drinks giant Diageo has updated its sustainable agriculture strategy with a focus on boosting farm yields and supply chain resilience in Africa, as it closes in on its target to source 80 per cent of its raw materials locally across the continent by 2020.

Unveiled today, the updated strategy is aimed at ensuring at least 100,000 farmers in eight African countries – Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana, Cameroon, South Africa and Uganda – benefit from direct local sourcing over the next year, the firm said.

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To meet the goal, Diageo said it would increase its spending on key raw materials such as sorghum, barley, and maize in Africa, bolstered by a new collaborative framework to increase yields through sustainable practices and ensure secure long-term markets for smallholder farmers.

The work builds on Diageo’s global sustainable agriculture strategy which was originally released in 2016 and was followed by a set of guidelines designed to support the delivery of the strategy. Today’s revamped strategy is aimed implementing and enhancing its work in Africa, Diageo said.

Diageo – which produces alcohol brands such as Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, Baileys, and Guinness – said it had a “significant footprint” across the continent, which is a major part of its agricultural supply chain as well as its largest region by volume for beer sales.

As such, working with partners such as Syngenta, Bayer, Yara, World Food Program and regional banks, Diageo said it would expand efforts to drive data-driven improvements in key areas such as seeds, agronomy, insurance, access to credit, soil nutrition and market access.

The company said smallholder farmers in markets such as Kenya and Nigeria were already benefitting from a package of initiatives such as improved seeds, access to credit, insurance and mechanisation, and that today’s revamped strategy would seek to expand these benefits across all eight African markets.

David Cutter, chief sustainability officer at Diageo said the raw material sourcing programme would help to create sustainable local businesses. “The wellbeing and vibrancy of the communities and our local suppliers we work with is our upmost priority,” he said. “With 79 per cent of raw materials sourced locally in Africa we are almost at our 80 per cent target but remain restless to do more and this refreshed strategy will take us further along this journey.”

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