Nestlé’s ‘forest positive’ strategy targets elimination of palm oil and cocoa deforestation

Nestlé has pledged to intensify its efforts to protect and retain global forests in its areas of operation, as a central element of its plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, reports Neill Barston.

As the company noted, its ‘forest positive’ strategy, will be backed by promotion of sustainable livelihoods and the respect of human rights with the company’s value chains.

Significantly, the company added that it also seeking to accelerate work to completely eliminate deforestation in its palm oil, sugar, soy, meat as well as pulp and paper supply chains by 2022. By 2025, it plans to achieve the same for its coffee and cocoa supply chains.

These actions build upon a decade of work to end deforestation in Nestlé’s key forest-risk commodities. In fact, 90% of those key ingredients—palm oil, sugar, soy, meat as well as pulp and paper—have been assessed as deforestation-free as of December 2020. Nestlé has used tools, such as supply chain mapping, certification, on-site-verification and satellite monitoring services like Starling or Global Forest Watch, to achieve this result. In addition, the company also collaborated with farmers, farming communities and suppliers on the ground.

“To meet the world’s food needs in 2050, agricultural production will have to increase by around half versus 2013 levels,” said Magdi Batato, EVP, Head of Operations at Nestlé. “It is more important than ever to protect natural ecosystems as we meet this challenge and to restore forests for the future.” He added that this forest positive strategy is key to regenerating Earth’s water systems, soil health and carbon storage.

“The use of satellite imagery has helped us on our journey to stop deforestation,” said Laurent Freixe, EVPCEO of Zone Americas, Nestlé. “We will now expand the use of this technology to monitor the sourcing of coffee and cocoa—two important ingredients for our much-loved products.” Utilising satellite monitoring services, Nestlé will carry out a risk assessment in the regions where it sources its ingredients. Starting with the Americas and then expanding globally, this will help the company take swift actions in sourcing these raw materials sustainably.

“A forest positive future is only possible when agricultural production and forest regeneration exist in harmony,” added Laurent Freixe. “By shifting how we grow, source and consume, we can make sure our food supplies are intact for the future. We must do this while nurturing our valuable tree cover, stabilising our climate and improving the livelihoods of farmers and communities.”

Within its palm oil supply chain, Nestlé has completed a Forest Footprint pilot (pdf, 3Mb) in the Aceh province in North Sumatra, Indonesia. A key objective of this pilot was to better understand future risks to forests and peatlands as well as the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs). By understanding these drivers and issues, the company is better positioned to deploy effective, forward-looking strategies.

Nestlé will foster a forest positive approach among its suppliers to create sustainable landscapes and livelihoods. The company will reward suppliers for their environmental efforts by buying bigger quantities, contracting with them long term, co-investing in programs that promote forest conservation and restoration, or by paying a premium for their products.

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