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Talking supplier diversity at Expo West

Author: Andrea Clark, Director, Global Corporate Affairs

Have you heard of Expo West? If you’re in the food business, you definitely have: the Natural Products Expo West is one of the largest annual conferences and exhibitions in the industry. It’s a big deal!

That’s why I was excited to fly out to Anaheim, California, to join a team of my colleagues as Kellanova marked its debut at the conference. We joined about 3,000 exhibitors to tell our story to the almost 65,000 visitors that passed by our booth.

The story front and center: our commitment to supplier diversity.

We rely on hundreds of incredible certified, diverse ingredients, packaging, indirect services and co-manufacturing suppliers from around the world. Partnering with diverse suppliers is not only an important part of our Kellanova Better Days™ Promise commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion (ED&I), it also helps Kellanova grow and innovate. When we source the ingredients that go into our iconic foods—from the cheese in Cheez-It® to the fruit fillings in Nutri-Grain® bars—from diverse partners, we create delicious, delightful foods that can only be the product of a culture that fosters inclusion, respects ideas and encourages diversity of thought.

We met with three of those suppliers at Expo West and had a chance to talk to them about their partnerships with Kellanova and the impact it has had on their businesses.

“Working with Kellanova has been a true blessing for us,” said Meryl Kennedy, Founder and CEO of 4Sisters Rice. “We’re both going for big, hairy, audacious goals.”

Meryl runs 4Sisters Rice alongside her three sisters, and they supply the rice used in our iconic Rice Krispies Treats®. With Kellanova’s support, the sisters implemented climate-smart irrigation practices that have helped them achieve a reduction of more than 1,600 metric tons of greenhouse gases – the equivalent of removing about 345 gasoline-powered cars from the road for one year!

Meryl noted that sharing with consumers that they are a woman-owned business has also helped make their brand more relatable. “People are realizing that women are underrepresented, particularly in the agricultural business, and they want to feel good about what they are buying,” she said. “Showcasing the people behind the brand makes a difference.”

Baldwin Richardson Foods is one of the largest Black family-owned and-operated businesses in the food industry. Their fruit flavored fillings have featured in Nutri-Grain® for more than 25 years. In all, they’ve produced more than 45 million pounds of ingredients that go into some of your favorite Kellanova products. Cara Hughes, Vice President of Customer and Community at Baldwin Richardson Foods, was also at Expo West. She said she enjoyed seeing other suppliers at the Expo and was pleased to see more diversity in the cohort, including at a session dedicated to showcasing them.

My team and I also had the opportunity to meet with two of our partners from PROVA, a French woman-owned business that is the sole supplier of cocoa extract used in RXBAR® products.

“PROVA is the largest woman-owned supplier of extracts and flavors globally,” said Pam deVries, President, PROVA US, adding that Kellanova was integral to the company earning its woman-owned status. Pam said the Kellanova team connected them to the right folks to get the certification as soon as Europe allowed it.

“Kellanova really is the best story of the mutually beneficial supplier-customer relationship. Our woman-owned business certification has been so important,” she added. “Kellanova really stands out for meaning what you say. It’s not just window dressing.”

Learn more about how Kellanova works to succeed with its supplier partners here.  

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