Nestlé investing $1.29 billion to support transition to a regenerative food system
Published: October 7, 2021
Category: Regenerative Agriculture
(Editor’s note: It’s great to see large companies like Nestlé make substantial commitments to regenerative agriculture, but there is no mention in their press release about reducing agrochemical inputs such as herbicides. Killing cover crops with Roundup is not regenerative agriculture.)
Nestlé is laying out its plans to support and accelerate the transition to a regenerative food system—one that aims to protect and restore the environment, improve the livelihoods of farmers and enhance the well-being of farming communities. Nestlé will work with its food system partners, including the company’s network of more than 500,000 farmers and 150,000 suppliers, to advance regenerative farming practices at the heart of the food system. As part of this journey, the company will also initiate new programs to help address the social and economic challenges of the transition.
The announcement is being made in the lead up to the UN Food Systems Summit in New York, as part of Nestle’s contribution to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. It also follows the recent report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that shows the climate crisis is intensifying.
“With our long-standing partnerships with farming communities globally, we want to increase our support for farming practices that are good for the environment and good for people,” said Mark Schneider, Nestlé CEO. “In the spirit of enabling a just transition it is vital that we support farmers around the world that take on the risks and costs associated with the move towards regenerative agriculture.”
Nestlé is investing 1.2 billion Swiss francs ($1.29 billion) over the next five years to spark regenerative agriculture across the company’s supply chain, using three primary levers to help farmers adopt regenerative practices:
- Apply state-of-the-art science and technology, provide technical assistance: Leveraging its vast network of R&D experts and agronomists, Nestlé is, for example, developing higher-yielding coffee and cocoa varieties with lower environmental impact and assessing novel solutions to reduce emissions in the dairy supply chain. Nestlé will also offer agricultural training and help farmers exchange information and best practices that can be adapted locally.
- Offer investment support: The transition to regenerative agriculture comes with initial risks and new costs. Nestlé will support farmers by co-investing with them, facilitating lending, or helping them obtain loans for specific equipment. The company will also work with partners to fund pilot projects to test and learn how best to advance regenerative agriculture.
- Pay premiums for regenerative agriculture goods: Nestlé will offer premiums for many raw materials produced using regenerative agriculture practices and buy bigger quantities. This means rewarding farmers not only for the quantity and quality of ingredients, but also for the benefits they provide to the environment through soil protection, water management, and carbon sequestration.
Nestlé recently published the regenerative farming practices that the company wants to promote. They include, among others, enhancement of biodiversity, soil conservation, regeneration of water cycles, and integration of livestock. Agriculture accounts for nearly two-thirds of Nestlé’s total greenhouse gas emissions, with dairy and livestock making up about half of that. In dairy, for example, Nestlé is assessing cutting edge science and technology to reduce emissions at farm level. The company will start working with 30 reference dairy farms in 12 countries to test scalable, climate-friendly, and regenerative agricultural practices that help achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions. Nestlé is also working with farmers to select and cultivate nutritious and tasty pulse varieties to be used as milk alternatives. More information about Nestlé’s approach is available online (pdf, 1Mb).
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Organic & Non-GMO Insights October 2021