As the world’s largest food and beverage company, Nestlé estimates that around 60% of its own emissions come from agriculture or linked activities like land use. Recently the company committed to halving its emissions by 2030 and achieving net zero by 2050.

Nestlé says it works with 500,000 farmers directly and another 4.5 million farmers indirectly via supplier relationships around the world.

And the company is switching to regenerative agriculture. The next few paragraphs are their words:

“Regenerative agriculture refers to a range of techniques that help keep carbon and water in the ground. It does this through safeguarding soil health and providing natural habitats for flora and fauna. There is no one-size-fits-all approach and the term encompasses a wide range of farming and grazing practices. The main interventions consist of ‘no-till’ agriculture which avoids exposing the soil to the atmosphere and subsequent degradation. It also covers improving other measures like integrating the management of crops with livestock and reducing the overall use of pesticides and other chemicals on-farm. Regenerative agriculture can help boost farmer incomes through higher yields and more resilience to a changing climate. Shade trees, cover crops.

“Nestlé has helped support regenerative agricultural practices in many countries to date and we now seek to scale this approach up to reduce our emissions. Examples include:

  • Our petcare division supporting the Nature Conservancy’s reThink Soil initiative in the US to help show how good soil health practices boost farmer income and help safeguard biodiversity.
  • In Europe, we are piloting and investigating landscape regenerative agriculture programs such as our Living Soils project in France – engaging our suppliers and other stakeholders.
  • Our breakfast cereals business in France has been scaling up its ‘Preference’ program with wheat farmer cooperatives, implementing step-by-step agro ecological practices.
  • As part of our vegetables program, we are working with farmers through our suppliers across Italy, France, Spain and Germany on projects related to soils and biodiversity. This includes the planting of cover crops between seasons, the incorporation of supplementary organic matter into fields, the planting of hedgerows and changes to the type of fertilizer being used.
  • In Malaysia, we are partnering with one of our suppliers to restore migration pathways for animals by planting native trees along the Kinabatangan River.
  • And in India, we’re helping improve how spices are grown in partnership with a supplier and local and international NGOs, including rolling out no-till agriculture and reducing the use of fertilizers.
  • In Spain our Miajadas tomato factory was the first Nestlé food factory in Europe to receive AWS certification on water stewardship earlier this year. Success relies on a multi-year collaboration with different stakeholders in the area, especially the tomato farmers and our main supplier, together with the support of the Global Nature Foundation as an environmental partner. Together, we reduced pesticide and fertilizer use on tomato fields by 10% and water consumption by 9%, with accumulated savings of more than 1,000,000 m3 of water since the beginning of the initiative. In addition to this, productivity per hectare increased by 8%.

    We anticipate significantly ramping up our collaboration with other companies, NGOs and the public sector as we tackle the challenges of safeguarding nature and the climate through successful pilots and landscape scale changes.” [Italics added]

Hmmm … maybe if we’re lucky they’ll buy Heinz Watties!

Meantime, in Thursday’s HB Today, the local carrier of nationally-distributed ‘The Country’, here is the mouthpiece of the NZ ag-chemical world (DairyNZ and Ravensdown), Jacqueline Rowarth, warning on the dangers of regen farming, in an article titled, ‘Green ideas come with a cost’:

“The suggestion that New Zealand can move to clover-based organic and regenerative agriculture needs serious thought before any change is made.” She goes on to argue that the “big issue for regenerative agriculture is yield, cost and price.” No support given.

First of all, if you’ve read the earlier paragraphs, you’ll see that she’s given a grossly distorted concept of what regenerative agriculture is.

That aside, I think Dr Rowarth is missing a huge opportunity. Clearly she’s on to something that the ninnies at Nestlé have overlooked … could be a heap of consulting money to be earned by setting them straight before it’s too late.

 

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2 Comments

  1. I think you should have looked a bit deeper before praising the practices of Nestle! It is one of the most hated and boycotted companies in the world – just google ‘Nestle bad practice’. For example:
    ” Boycotters have long accused Nestlé of harming children through the unethical promotion of infant formula to Third World mothers”
    “And it’s pulling millions of gallons of water out of the ground of drought-stricken areas to bottle and sell.”
    “Child labor, unethical promotion, manipulating uneducated mothers, pollution, price fixing and mislabeling”.
    “Nestle is the world’s largest foodstuff company, and it has a history that would make even hardcore industrialists shiver”.
    I have boycotted their products for 20 years!

    1. Hi Rose,
      And for all the reasons you note, I understand and support why you’ll boycott them another 20 years.

      At the same time, given their status as the world’s largest food company, hugely affecting how food is produced, their ‘conversion’ to regenerative farming practices will have transformative impact if fully carried through. That sorely needed transformation should be welcomed — and I am certain, because of the history you cite, there will be heaps of eyes following them and holding them to account.

      Tom Belford

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