Nestlé makes gains against its 2025 deforestation-free cocoa supply goals

Nestlé has reported further progress against its deforestation-free cocoa supply chain goals by 2025, including expanding the number of farmers engaged with in core markets of Ghana and Ivory Coast to 127,000, writes Neill  Barston.

The business joined the widely hailed Cocoa and Forests initiative in 2017 along with confectionery majors including Mars, Mondelez, Hershey, Cemoi, Puratos and Barry Callebaut, in working with the two West African nations’ governments and leading civil organisations to drive impact on industry-linked forest loss.

However, as Confectionery Production has previously reported, despite collective advances being made, satellite mapped studies from campaign group Mighty Earth have revealed that significant levels of forest are still being cleared – with claims that rates of land clearance have actually worsened within the past three years.

The situation has been heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, falling prices of cocoa placing additional pressure on land, as well as reported issues with immigration from neighbouring states, with a known issue of illegal farming of protected forest areas.

As Nestlé noted, over the past years, it has placed a key emphasis on efforts to scale up its actions to help end deforestation, restore forests and ensure regenerative supply chains for forests and communities in the cocoa supply chain.

Its core initiatives have included restoring more than 400 hectares of forests in the Cavally Forest Reserve – one of the largest classified forests in Ivory Coast – and in Beki and Toa Zèo forests. Nestlé is implementing forest conservation projects in those three areas to protect animals’ natural habitats, such as elephants, and support nearby communities.

The company has also mapped over 104,000 farms in Ghana and Ivory Coast, expanding its Cocoa Plan from 110 000 to 127 000 farmers, as well as distributing more than  2,2 million forest and local fruit trees to farmers to drive agroforestry and regenerative agriculture. Furthermore, the business has also reached more than 5,000  farmers and their families with community awareness-raising sessions.

Supply chain risks

As the company added, it is also utilising technology to address deforestation  risks in the cocoa supply chain. Among prominent examples of this is the Starling satellite to monitor forest cover changes in the Cavally Forest reserve.

This system has reportedly assisted local patrols group target their intervention, effectively leading to a decrease in deforestation and a positive impact on the natural regeneration of the forest.

Meanwhile, in Latin America, Nestlé commissioned Global Risk Assessment Services (GRAS) across four countries – Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico and Venezuela – to assess deforestation risks in cocoa producing areas through satellite data. While results show that cocoa-related deforestation is mainly low and concentrated in specific areas, detailed mapping was provided to enable Nestlé to avoid sourcing from deforested areas.

In tandem, earlier this year, the company launched an innovative programme that rewards farmers for the quantity and quality of cocoa beans they produce and their benefits to the environment and local communities.

Through this income accelerator scheme, farmers will receive cash incentives for performing agroforestry activities such as planting shade trees to increase climate resilience. Working to improve farmers’ incomes, therefore, has the potential to help reduce pressure on forests.

These initiatives contribute to Nestlé’s climate actions to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. As part of this work, the company is deploying nature-based solutions, like forest conservation and restoration, to absorb more carbon, improve soil health, and enhance biodiversity.

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