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MBOLD Launch

New coalition aims to accelerate solutions to world’s biggest food and agriculture challenges.

by JoAnne Berkenkamp, Managing Director of MBOLD

On October 16, groups from throughout Minnesota celebrated the launch of MBOLD, a new coalition that brings together many of the state’s largest food and agriculture companies, research institutions and innovators to address major challenges facing the food and agriculture sectors. The launch took place as part of Global Minnesota’s World Food Day 2020 Conference.

Powered by the GREATER MSP Partnership, MBOLD includes CEOs and other c-suite leaders from Cargill, Compeer Financial, Ecolab, General Mills, Hormel Foods, Land O’ Lakes, Schwan’s Company, Target and the University of Minnesota, as well as the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI), the Minnesota AgriGrowth Council, Grow North and McKinsey & Co. MBOLD’s members reach consumers in more than 125 countries around the world and have combined annual revenues exceeding $250 billion.

“The MBOLD coalition seeks to harness the power, reach and expertise of our members to accelerate practical solutions to pressing global challenges and drive real impact,” said Jeff Harmening, chairman and CEO of General Mills and co-chair of MBOLD. “Minnesota’s unique cluster of leaders is collaborating on some of the biggest challenges facing our food system and we are poised to lead the way to a more sustainable future.”

Food and agriculture businesses based in Minnesota play an outsized role in nourishing our planet, connecting farmers with markets, and driving innovations that are fundamentally shaping the way the world eats. Minnesota is also home to the University of Minnesota, AURI and other world-class researchers, as well as some of the best farmers and farmland in the world. By working together in new ways, MBOLD aims to accelerate practical solutions to twin challenges of feeding the planet’s growing population while addressing climate change and other vital natural resource issues.

“AURI is proud to be a founding member of the MBOLD coalition, which strives to advance new industry opportunities and collaborative work on industry challenges,” says Shannon Schlecht, AURI’s executive director. “There is an overarching need to advance innovation and entrepreneurship efforts in agriculture and this network of action focused leaders will undoubtedly drive new impactful outcomes. Nowhere else in the world can such an impactful and diverse collaboration of food and agriculture leaders exist in one’s back yard.”

Areas of Focus

MBOLD has embarked on initiatives to develop a circular economy for flexible film packaging, advance soil health and water stewardship, encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in food and agriculture, tackle food insecurity in the face of COVID-19, and build programs to attract and retain world-class talent to Minnesota’s food and agriculture sector.

Circular Economy of Flexible Packaging Film: Massive amounts of flexible packaging film are used every year as single-use shopping bags, pallet wrap, grain bags and more, but in the U.S. less than 4 percent of that packaging is recycled. MBOLD is exploring opportunities to create a circular economy for this material, including opportunities to expand recycling capability in our region and build the market demand needed to make recycling these materials abundant and profitable.

Soil Health and Water Sewardship: Climate change continues to strain the world’s natural resources. Agriculture has the potential to be a major part of the solution to greenhouse gas emissions and water issues. MBOLD is working to develop regenerative agriculture systems that build soil health, protect water resources and diversify farm incomes. For example, MBOLD members are working with farmers in Minnesota’s Red River Valley to introduce regenerative soil health practices by offering cost-share funding for growers, on-farm demonstration sites, education, technical assistance and evaluation of the impact on farm economics.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship: MBOLD is bringing together the disruptive thinking of entrepreneurs and innovators from around the world with the acumen and reach of large global companies to drive solutions to today’s major challenges. MBOLD is proud to partner with AURI on the Bold Open Reverse Pitch, a platform for innovators to propose and scale up practical solutions to challenges set forth by local companies and farm commodity groups.

Food Insecurity: COVID-19 has caused a surge in unemployment and economic disruption in our region. One in eight Minnesotans are currently food insecure, and that number is expected to worsen as we move into 2021. Through public-private collaboration, MBOLD is helping use predictive analytics to get ahead of food insecurity at the local level, spotlight funding needs, and scale up innovative partnerships and technology to increase the capacity of local food relief networks.

Our world faces unprecedented and urgent challenges. The need to collaborate better and drive innovation – in order to seize new opportunities – has never been greater. With its rich history of collaboration from farm to fork, Minnesota can help lead the way. To learn more, visit and follow the initiative on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.