VEVEY, Switzerland — Nestlé has laid out plans to support and accelerate the transition to a regenerative food system, as calls grow for businesses big and small to protect and restore the environment.
As part of its commitment, the consumer goods giant has said it 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 comes in the lead up to the UN Food Systems Summit in New York, which will take place later this week, and forms part of Nestle’s contribution to help achieve its Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
“We know that regenerative agriculture plays a critical role in improving soil health, restoring water cycles and increasing biodiversity for the long term,” said Paul Bulcke, Chairman of Nestlé.
“These outcomes form the foundation of sustainable food production and, crucially, also contribute to achieving our ambitious climate targets.”
Currently, a large proportion of Nestlé’s emissions come from the farms that cultivate its raw ingredients. However, it hopes it can halve those emissions by 2030 and achieve net-zero by 2050.
The company will invest CHF 1.2 billion over the next five years to spark regenerative agriculture across its supply chain — an approach to farming that works to protect natural resources and restore farmland while drawing down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
And it says it will use three primary levers to help farmers adopt regenerative practices:
- Apply state-of-the-art science and technology to 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. It 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.
“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,” explained 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.”
Other big players including Danone and PepsiCo have also made their commitment to regenerative agriculture known. Danone, announced plans to adopt sustainable agriculture practices on more than 1 million total acres of land, earlier this year, while PepsiCo has committed to restoring approximately 7 million acres of farmland through regenerative agriculture by 2030.
And plenty more, including General Mills, Arla and Unilever are following suit, as they look to lean further into the values of conscious consumers.
According to Nielsen, 75% of millennials are altering their buying habits with the environment in mind, and regenerative practices are predicted to become the next ‘big driver’ of purchasing decisions, as consumers already buying organic and sustainable food products turn to a practice that encompasses both.