Barilla Mulino Bianco: its sustainable supply chain

Nurturing trust in a better world is the promise of the historic brand, which today is embodied in a rigorous approach to sustainability. We talk about it with Andrea Dipace, Marketing Director of Barilla

Nurturing confidence in a better world is the historic brand’s promise, which is now embodied in a stringent approach to sustainability. We talked about it with Andrea Dipace, Barilla’s marketing director.
“Mulino Bianco is a brand rooted in tradition and in the collective imagination. Since its inception, in 1975, it has focused on the evocative equation of the good times, know-how, the good and the beautiful linked to the genuineness of products and feelings.
A form of pleasant longing for bygone days that has gradually evolved harmoniously along with the trend in today’s culture of family, nature and well-made food.
These are the areas the brand has gained great social relevance, securing rapid growth and quickly gaining sound leadership in the bakery segment.
Despite the brand’s evolution over the years, Mulino Bianco’s promise has always remained the same: nurturing confidence in a better world.”
So began Andrea Dipace, Barilla Marketing Director, met us at the ‘Biodiversity and People’ event, organized by Bee it and Apicoltura Urbana, where he shared how Mulino Bianco is addressing the issue of sustainability. We were surprised to learn that Mulino Bianco feels a lot the responsibility toward its supply chain of farmers. It involves them in a sustainable approach by asking that 3% of the farmland be planted with flowers. This has led to a 64% increase in pollinating insects in the soils used. We wanted to learn more about it.

Know-how: raw materials to the entire supply chain

Mulino Bianco is part of the Barilla Group and is the bakery market leader in Italy. For more than 10 years, the brand has adopted a “Know-How” manual, Good Manufacturing Practices. More than 1,200 rules ranging from the hygienic and sanitary requirements of environments, production facilities, and plants to employee behavior.
Monitoring all stages of the production process, verifying the origin of raw materials, but also making sure the product is safe and high-quality. Supply chain control is the daily commitment Mulino Bianco works on to bring wholesome and tasty products to the table.
In addition to the raw material production phase, Mulino Bianco pursues an ongoing commitment to respecting the environment and adopting the most sustainable production procedures, aiming to save resources, promote recycling and use renewable energy. 

The four pillars

“Our vision comes to substance through four strategic and fundamental pillars” explained Andrea Dipace. “The first is the quality of ingredients, which has always been a priority for the brand. The second is the focus on nutritional aspects and thus the response to people’s changing needs. The third pillar is having an open communication with consumers. Mulino Bianco, for example, provides the full list of ingredients in all its products. Fourth pillar is the commitment to the sustainability of the supply chain, which includes a range of initiatives to protect the environment and promote sustainable agricultural methods.”

The environmental impact of Mulino Bianco

“The bucolic landscapes always associated with the brand are now in trouble due to human intervention” – Dipace went on. “Only by acknowledging our own responsibilities on the supply chains can we make a real breakthrough and achieve results on both food production and consumption choices, to restore the long-lost balance between humans and the environment.”
Between 2008 and 2021, Mulino Bianco factories reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 56% and water consumption by 53%, per ton of product. 100% of packaging is recyclable material. Mulino Bianco uses 100% electricity from renewable and local sources. Thanks to Alperia, one of the leading producers of electricity from renewable sources nationwide, it purchases certified renewable and 100% Italian energy from the Glorenza hydroelectric power plant on Resia Lake in the Val Venosta valley.

Grano Mulino Bianco

“Carta del Mulino”, sustainability for soft wheat

“The flagship of Mulino Bianco is Carta del Mulino. The document is part of the sustainability roadmap for the entire organization and represents a significant commitment to the brand, involving any aspects, production to consumption.
Carta del Mulino is a sustainability roadmap covering the soft wheat supply chain. It includes ten rules, such as the adoption of a five-year rotation plan for crops, which is useful to promote soil fertility, the use of wheat varieties indicated by Barilla and certified seeds, the creation of flowering areas equal to 3% of the surface area of the fields in favor of biodiversity, and the promotion of physical methods for storing wheat.”
“La Carta del Mulino” is a project born in 2019 and created in partnership with WWF Italia, Università di Bologna, Università della Tuscia and Open Fields, dozens of mills, hundreds of storage centers and thousands of farms.
The document is an innovative set of guidelines for the sustainable cultivation of soft wheat. It consists of 10 rules updated every year with an ever-increasing commitment to a path of steady improvement. These rules are designed to ensure the quality of soft wheat, support the work of farming communities, and restore space for nature in agroecosystems by promoting biodiversity, reducing the use of chemicals, and safeguarding pollinating insects. “La Carta del Mulino” already covers more than 100 Mulino Bianco products and will include even more.”

The ten rules of Carta del Mulino

  • ISCC Plus Certification: all members of the “Carta del Mulino” must meet the requirements of ISCC PLUS (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification) sustainability certification;
  • Crop rotation: a rotation plan that includes at least three different crops over a five-year period must be implemented by farms to ensure the sustainability of the main crops. This technique maintains soil integrity, increases its fertility and reduces the outbreak of pests and weeds;
  • Mulino Flower Areas: Mulino Bianco promotes planting mixtures of flowering essences to create areas not treated with chemicals. Such areas must cover at least 3% of the area devoted to soft wheat cultivation, whether temporary or permanent. Such areas promote the establishment of pollinating insects, thus contributing to the biodiversity of the agroecosystem;
  • Varietal choice, use of certified seed and prohibition of neonicotinoids: all farms must use only certified seed and the varieties specified by Barilla for growing “Carta del Mulino” soft wheat. Seeds treated with neonicotinoids and plant protection products containing them cannot be used, and GM plant material is prohibited;
  • Barilla Farming Digital Management: all “Carta del Mulino” participants are required to use the “Barilla Farming” digital platform, entering required data and information to ensure the calculation of CO₂ emissions and related environmental impacts;
  • Prohibition of sludge use: no sewage sludge can be used in the “Carta del Mulino” wheat area;
  • Glyphosate ban: no glyphosate and/or plant protection products containing them may be used in the “Mill Paper” soft wheat area;
  • Segregation and traceability: lots of “Mill Paper” wheat must be grown, harvested and delivered separately;
  • Wheat storage: wheat produced according to the guidelines must be stored by physical methods permitted in organic farming, such as refrigeration or atmosphere modification, to limit the use of chemicals;
  • Value transfer: all members of the “Carta del Mulino” must ensure economic recognition distributed throughout the supply chain. 

The agreement with farmers

Barilla’s commitment also includes the recognition for farmers and other supply chain players of a premium for the sustainable soft wheat delivered, which can compensate for the lower yields for farmland returned to Nature and the higher costs of good practices.
“Among the commitments we take on is to provide training. As we know, in Italy, farms are on average small and very small, and the focus is generally aimed at marginality and optimizing economic management.
Our goal is to offer training and empower these farms to do better work, thanks to more sustainable tools and awareness. Mulino Bianco also provides technological tools, such as taking advantage of satellite surveys to monitor field health. This system makes it possible to schedule more accurate and efficient treatments, with net savings in water, better crop yields and reduced chemical inputs.”


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