The ‘Carta del Mulino’: the Mulino Bianco charter for sustainable soft wheat
23 September 2021
"Once lost, biodiversity for food and agriculture – which means all the species that support our food systems – cannot be recovered”. This warning comes from FAO: in its latest report, the UN agency turns the spotlight on the future of our food, from production to distribution and consumption. The incontrovertible analysis of data provided by 182 countries shows that 24% of the approximately 4,000 wild food species are at risk - especially plants, fish and mammals. Of the approximately 6,000 plant species grown for food, fewer than 200 contribute substantially to global food production and only nine account for 66% of total production.
And precisely because of this situation, the mobilization required must involve not only institutions and governments but also companies, which need to take a more far-sighted approach, attentive to the issues of sustainability and respect for the environment.
THE ‘CARTA DEL MULINO’, A CHARTER TO SAFEGUARD BIODIVERSITY
This is the intention of the ‘Carta del Mulino’ (The ‘Mulino Charter’), the rulebook for soft wheat flour from sustainable farming, presented by Mulino Bianco in 2019: a project that focuses on the main causes of biodiversity loss linked to agriculture and that started with Buongrano, the first Mulino Bianco brand biscuit made with 100% soft wheat flour from sustainable agriculture, and has already been extended to many of the brand’s products.
The Carta del Mulino is part of our commitment to help improve people's lives and the well-being of the planet through the quality of our food: we believe that a product must be good, high quality and contribute to a balanced lifestyle. It has to prioritize the use of clean and responsible supply chains, respecting the environment and communities.
The Carta del Mulino consists of ten rules: these include, the adoption of a five-year rotation plan for the main crops to promote soil fertility, the use of wheat varieties indicated by Barilla and certified seeds, the creation of flowered areas and the promotion of physical methods for storing the wheat (such as refrigeration or modified atmosphere), as well as methods allowed in organic farming. The project - set up with the contribution of WWF Italy, the University of Bologna, Tuscia University and OpenFields - has now been joined by around 2,600 farmers scattered throughout the country and internationally, plus dozens of Italian mills, for a total of over 390,000 tons of soft wheat used to produce flour. Thanks to this project, over 100 Mulino Bianco products - including all the brand's biscuits - can now boast the “soft wheat flour from sustainable agriculture” logo.
‘EVEN BETTER’ PRODUCTS: 2,000 HECTARES RETURNED TO NATURE BY 2022
“This Charter represents the Group's intention to once again promote good quality agriculture, encouraging the growth of the soft wheat supply chain” - explains Paolo Barilla, Vice-President of the Barilla Group – “A commitment from farm to fork, to offer consumers even better products that are friendly to the environment and biodiversity, in keeping with our ‘Good for You, Good for the Planet’ mission.
For the Director General of the WWF Italy, Gaetano Benedetto, “the ‘Carta del Mulino’ is a significant step toward a more sustainable agriculture. Reducing the use of chemicals and giving space back to nature will allow us to bring back wild flowers, which are essential to feed pollinating insects. By 2022, approximately 2,000 hectares will be returned to nature: 3% of the agricultural area dedicated to the cultivation of soft wheat, a real scattered nature reserve”.
The approach is simple yet ambitious: to improve the quality of the products that arrive on people’s tables while at the same time supporting farmers and promoting biodiversity, for example by safeguarding pollinating insects such as bees. The over 20,000 species of wild bees in the world today (960 in Italy alone) are in fact responsible for 88% of the pollination of the planet's plant species, on which 35% of global agricultural production depends.
In fact, the farmers who have signed up to the rulebook undertake to reserve an area equal to 3% of their soft wheat fields for the cultivation of 'Mill Flowers' - a mixture of herbaceous species that enriches the fields with plant and animal biodiversity - and not to use insecticides in these areas.
THE 'BEE MILL'
However, the actions of Mulino Bianco to protect pollinating insects do not end there. In order to safeguard a species that is now increasingly at risk of extinction due to climate change, intensive agricultural practices and increasing urbanization, Mulino Bianco has created the Bee Mill project, setting up around 300 “Bee Mills” near Italian soft wheat fields covered by the Mulino Charter.
These little bee houses provide a safe place for wild bees, butterflies and other insects to reproduce and feed, resuming their journey according to the rhythms and timings dictated by nature.
MULINO BIANCO COMMITMENT TO THE ENVIRONMENT
Mulino Bianco’s commitment to protect the environment began a long time ago. Since 2008, our brand has been constantly reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and water use over time. In addition to this ongoing effort, Mulino Bianco is committed to buying 100% of its electricity from renewable sources and using 100% recyclable packaging.
Three goals linked to our priority objectives, which are to respect nature, limit waste and reduce our environmental impact.
Do you want to help build a happier and more nature-attentive world?
If you are a mill, storage facility or farmer, you can sign up to the Mill Charter too: find out how by going to https://www.mulinobianco.it/lacartadelmulino.
Discover what's cooking in our world