5 Questions with Diane Herndon, Senior Manager, Sustainability, Nestlé Purina

For Nestlé Purina, sustainability starts with the farmer. Diane Herndon, senior manager of sustainability with the company, shares how Purina commits to sustaining the environment, their customers and their over 100-year-old business by using the consistent quality of U.S. soy in their pet food products.

1. What is Purina’s sustainability approach?

At Purina, we’re committed to pets, the people who love them and the environment that sustains us all. Because we receive so much value from the land — in the high-quality ingredients that we purchase for our products — we believe it’s our responsibility to add value back to the land. We do that by partnering with farmers and conservationists to preserve soil and promote clean water, biodiversity and other factors that create healthy ingredients and a healthy ecosystem. Farmers are the original stewards of the land, and we try to help them do what they do best.

2. How does Purina evaluate and choose new suppliers?

Purina’s ingredient suppliers are subject to a rigorous vetting process that can take six to 12 months or longer to complete. At Purina, every ingredient in our food serves a purpose, and we work to ensure it meets the nutritional needs of pets, that we know how and where that ingredient is raised, assess the abundance of that supply and its long-term sustainability and confirm that the suppliers’ practices align with our standards. Purina works with direct and indirect suppliers. In the case of grains, we purchase from grain handlers, who purchase from the farmers. We expect all of the companies and farms that we work with to operate ethically and responsibly by caring for the land, their workers and the environment.

3. How does Purina expect their suppliers, such as soybean farmers, to help reach these goals?

Purina collaborates with farmers and conservation organizations, including Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and The Nature Conservancy, to help place stewardship practices on lands in the regions where we source our high-quality ingredients. The farmers involved have been very willing to engage in and support these conservation practices. In some cases, these practices bring economic improvement to the farmers themselves. Many of the farmers contribute to projects in Field to Market, an alliance for sustainable agriculture. It’s comprised of the full supply chain from farmers to retailers, with companies, universities, crop advisors and environmental groups in between. When we support projects through Field to Market, we involve all these diverse groups because they each have something to offer. However, the farmers are certainly the main drivers of that work.

4. How does Purina trace the quality of its ingredients from the source all the way through the finished product?

Purina has rigorous quality assurance systems in place throughout our network of 21 manufacturing facilities in the U.S., and we can trace every ingredient back to our trusted suppliers. Trained staff at our facilities inspect each ingredient for quality and safety as it arrives at our facilities. Our quality assurance team performs multiple checks throughout the manufacturing process, and our factory employees have the power to reject any ingredients that don’t meet our high standards.

5. Why does sustainability matter to Purina and its customers?

Pet owners care about the environment and the quality of the foods they serve their families, including their pets. Purina has been making high-quality products for dogs and cats for more than 90 years, and we want to continue delivering nutrition and innovation for pets for many more years to come. Sustainability is critical to ensure availability of quality ingredients in the supply chain, and also a healthy environment for our families and pets to enjoy together.  Quality ingredients come from quality land as part of a good, balanced environment. This requires a sustainable approach and collaboration. That’s why we work with farmers, conservation groups and other like-minded organizations that have similar sustainability goals and missions, so together we are helping to create a more sustainable food system. As a leader in the pet care industry, it is important that we also lead the sustainability of the entire food system for our pets and the people who love them.

Farmers are very important to Purina. We consider it a privilege to work with them, supporting their hard work to steward the land and raise quality crops.

By working with U.S. soybean farmers, we know that we are receiving a high-quality product, grown using sustainable methods that will continue to be consistent and align with our sustainability standards.

U.S. Soy helps make whatever you make more sustainable. Steps to improve sustainability are taken throughout the soy value chain to create an environmentally friendly product for end users to sell to consumers. Farm practices such as precision agriculture, pesticide-resistance management, reduced tillage and buffer strips all positively impact environmental goals, including water quality, soil health and greenhouse gas emissions.

Visit unitedsoybean.org/sustainability-report to download the Soy Sustainability Report.