Corn is one of the most widely grown cereal crops. Inefficient fertilizer practices and the demand for irrigated water contribute to environmental degradation. 

Environmental and Social Factors that Drive Risks

Commodity Background

On average in the U.S., about 45 percent of corn is used for animal feed, 44 percent is turned into ethanol, and 10 percent is used as food. Within corn used for food, about one third is converted into high-fructose corn syrup.  

Top Production Regions

The U.S. and China are by far the largest corn producers, accounting for more than half of global corn production.


Supply Chain

The corn value chain is extremely broad, encompassing many players and sectors. However, a small group of big companies control large volumes of production at key points in the US supply chain.


Company Examples

The Coca-Cola Company

The Coca-Cola Company committed to sustainably sourcing by 2020 all its key agricultural ingredients, including the corn that goes into its high-fructose syrup. By 2020, it aims to engage farmers that collectively represent up to 1 million acres, or roughly 50 percent of the company’s global corn supply, in implementing this commitment.


Smithfield -- as a pork producer -- purchases large quantities of animal feed containing corn, and has set a goal to have 75 percent of its Southeast grain-sourcing acres participate in a fertilizer optimization and soil health program by 2018.

General Mills

General Mills’ stated goal is to sustainably source 100 percent of its 10 priority ingredients by 2020, including dry milled corn. In 2014, the company launched a Field to Market pilot program targeting 20 eastern Wisconsin corn growers with the aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient utilization, while increasing biodiversity.