Sustainable Industry

Food giant sets goals for a regenerative future

Nestlé Brasil announces sustainability commitments for the country, including becoming the first carbon neutral producer of coffee capsules, instant coffee, and roasted and ground coffee

Earlier this month, Nestlé Brasil announced the sustainability commitments it has undertaken nationally to fast-track achievement of the company’s global ambitions related climate targets. Brazil is the fourth largest market for Nestlé, which is the world’s leading food producer.

Nestlé is a signatory to the United Nations (UN) Business Ambition for 1.5°C commitment and has a global plan to halve its net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 and to achieve zero net emissions by 2050. Actions affect supply chains, plants, transport systems, and products.

In Brazil, Nestlé has three pillars towards these goals. One of these is regenerative agriculture. The aim is to produce food while restoring habitats, protecting biodiversity around production areas, and reducing GHG emissions, thereby creating a positive impact through its primary supply chains, such as coffee, milk and cocoa.

The second pillar involves the concept of circularity to reduce and eliminate wastage in packaging production. The third pillar focuses on the bioeconomy by supporting Brazil’s biomes and the communities that live in them through sustainable business.

As such, Nestlé’s actions are in line with the strategy of the National Confederation of Industry (CNI) towards a low-carbon economy based on four pillars: energy transition, carbon market, circular economy, and forest conservation.

Influence – “Sustainability is a cross-cutting theme throughout the company, which involves the entire organization and value chain – and this allows business to evolve towards more sustainable models,” says Fabio Spinelli, Nestlé Brasil’s Head of Strategic Planning, M&A and Sustainability.  “Climate change is one of the single biggest challenges facing humanity and one of the largest risks for the future of our business – so addressing it requires urgent action from all of us,” says Melchior.

“As the largest food and beverage corporation in the world, we have the scale, representativeness, capabilities, and expertise to influence other people and inspire collective, high-impact actions by working closely with the production chains, organizations and various links in the food system that are critical to engage and transform our industry,” he adds.

Regeneration – Goals set for Brazil include adopting a regenerative approach to source 30% of the main raw materials by 2025. This includes recycling all the plastic released into the Brazilian market and conserving 300,000 hectares of land in the Amazon, thus generating income and promoting education for 4,000 people.

Nestlé Brasil CEO Marcelo Melchior argues that the Brazilian market should play a leading role as part of the global transition to scaled regenerative food systems. “The local commitments undertaken by the company in Brazil are critical in fulfilling the global commitment, and regeneration is now a very meaningful word for Nestlé,” says Melchior.

“Regeneration has a positive impact on practices that drive soil health and fertility improvement; sequester carbon; protect and restore natural resources such as water; foster biodiversity; and address waste – all of this with a focus also on improving the daily lives of producers and the welfare of farmer communities”, he says.

These strategies and initiatives include numerous actions, such as innovation and new techniques along the supply chains. They also include forest restoration and the use of various biodiversity assets from a sustainable business perspective by empowering communities that live in the Amazon Forest and generate income from the responsible use of resources. In addition, the company fuels the circular economy with investments in recyclable and reusable packaging and partnerships with recycling cooperatives while developing new chains for discarded materials.

Programs – Under the regenerative agriculture pillar, Nestlé encourages food growing and the goal of sourcing 30% of raw materials through these models by 2025. In the coffee production chain, the Cultivando com Respeito program (Growing with Respect) was created ten years ago and is the largest sustainable coffee growing program in the world: 1.2 thousand farms are certified, with 100% traceability and 85% of farms adopting regenerative practices. Nestlé announced that it will become the first carbon neutral producer of coffee capsules, instant coffee, and roasted and ground coffee through its brands Nespresso and Nescafé by 2022.

The Sustainable Practices Program for the milk production chain has been around for over 15 years. In 2021, the company announced a partnership with the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) to develop the first national protocol for low-carbon dairy farming and the first Net Zero dairy farms in the country.

Nestlé also announced that 100% of supplier properties will rely on water management by 2022. By the end of 2020, the 60 dairy farms participating in the program had saved more than 19 million liters of water – an 8% reduction compared to 2019.

In addition, the company boasts achievements such as more than 1,100 certified growers in the cocoa supply chain and the use of geo-monitoring in supplier farms, thereby boosting the traceability of raw materials. Satellite imagery helps to continuously monitor properties and any changes in land cover, in addition to signs of deforestation.

The Cocoa Plan best practices program has been in existence for over ten years, and it has a focus on minimizing social and environmental impacts and improving quality. The goal is to have 100% of the Brazilian cocoa supply chain certified by 2025.

As for circularity, Nestlé’s goal is to remove 100% of the plastic that it releases in the Brazilian market by 2025, and has been fostering the circular economy, which generates income and opportunities. The company supports more than 10,000 collectors in 1,300 cities and towns in Brazil through partnerships with Cataki, Reciclar pelo Brasil and Cidades Mais.

In 2019, Nestlé announced the RE initiative, which proposes to rethink the company’s operations as a whole and to engage other stakeholders and partners in promoting more sustainable practices. All in all, 95% of Nestlé’s packaging in Brazil is designed to be recycled or reused. The goal is to make all its packaging recyclable or reusable around the world by 2025, in an effort that will involve rethinking materials, developing selective collection chains and engaging and raising awareness of consumers and partners.

In September, Nestlé also announced its global Generation Regeneration initiative, which will rely on 1.2 billion Swiss francs worldwide over the next few years to encourage regenerative agriculture.