Nestlé supports transition to regenerative food system

Victor Uzoho

Food and beverage company, Nestlé, plans to support and accelerate the transition to a regenerative food system, aimed at protecting and restoring the environment, improving the livelihoods of farmers, and enhancing the well-being of farming communities.

The company said it is working with its food system partners, which include a network of more than 500,000 farmers and 150,000 suppliers, to advance regenerative farming practices at the heart of the food system.

Nestlé also said it will initiate new programmes to help address the social and economic challenges of the transition, according to a statement ahead of the UN Food Systems Summit in New York, in line with its contribution to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

This follows the recent report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shows that the climate crisis is intensifying, and declared Code Red for Humanity.

Commenting, Chairman of Nestlé, Paul Bulcke, said the company believes that regenerative agriculture plays a critical role in improving soil health, restoring water cycles, and increasing biodiversity for the long term.

“These outcomes form the foundation of sustainable food production and, crucially, also contribute to achieving our ambitious climate targets.”

On his part, Nestlé CEO, Mark Schneider, said with the company’s long-standing partnerships with farming communities globally, and aims to increase its support for farming practices that are good for the environment and the people.

“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,” he said.

According to him, Nestlé plans to support farmers by co-investing with them, and helping them obtain loans for specific equipment, and work with partners to fund pilot projects to test and learn how best to advance regenerative agriculture.

He said the company is investing CHF 1.2 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 and would offer premiums for many raw materials produced using regenerative agriculture practices, and buy bigger quantities.

Regenerative agriculture plays a critical role in improving soil health, restoring water cycles, and increasing biodiversity for the long term.

This, he said, will reward 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.

“In Central and West Africa, Nestlé’s focus is to ensure supply of local agricultural materials, create inclusive livelihoods for smallholder farmers (SHFs), women and youth while protecting environmental resources.

“Since 2015, we have been able to impact more than 56,000 beneficiaries under our Grains Plan in Nigeria and Ghana through mentorship, training on agricultural practices and provision of inputs.

“We also extend our support to young agripreneurs through training, business development and provision of inputs.  More than 2000 of these young agripreneurs involved in maize, coffee and cocoa farming are already part of this promising journey.”

Nestlé is a signatory to the UN Business Ambition for 1.5°C pledge, and was one of the first companies to share its detailed, time-bound climate plan in December 2020, and is taking measures to halve its emissions by 2030 to achieve net-zero by 2050.

Among its regenerative farming practices are enhancement of biodiversity, soil conservation, regeneration of water cycles, and integration of livestock.

With agriculture accounting for nearly two-thirds of its total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with dairy and livestock constituting about half of that, Nestlé is therefore assessing cutting-edge science and technology to reduce emissions at the farm level.

Its regeneration efforts are launched under the “Generation Regeneration”, focused on farmers, youth, consumers and its employees.

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