Sustainability strategy and the relation with the UN Sustainable

REUTERS/Rick Wilking
REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Nestlé S.A. or Société des Produits Nestlé S.A., based in Vevey, Switzerland, is a large multinational company active in the food industry. It manufactures and distributes a wide variety of items, from mineral water to baby food, from frozen to dairy products. Nestlé sees itself as “the leading Nutrition, Health and Wellness Company”.

One of Nestlé’s main goals is to create shared value, not only for shareholders, but for the society as a whole. For the company, it is key to be prosperous over the long term. In fact, this shared generated value would be in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

In order to deal with critical issues concerning hunger, health and sustainability, the United Nations set what are called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In September 2015, when the previous ones have reached their expiration date, 193 UN Member States adopted 17 new goals, which define the priorities until 2030: ending poverty and hunger, improving nutrition, promoting sustainable agriculture and achieving food security, gender equality, availability of water and sanitation for all as well as access to affordable, reliable and renewable energy for all.

Starting from the supply chain, Nestlé works to add value at every stage: from sourcing ingredients, to processing, manufacturing and distributing to the customers. The company recognizes the importance of biodiversity and makes sure to respect the principles of fair access to raw materials. Furthermore, the management is working on improving the nutritional quality of products, using for example less sugar, less salt or lower total fat.

Nestlé’s commitments are categorized into the following groups: a) nutrition, health and wellness, b)rural development, c) water, d) environmental sustainability, e) human rights and compliance, f) people.

a) Nutrition, health and wellness

The milestone of nutrition is science. The company invests nearly 1.6 billion euros in Research & Development. Looking for science-based nutrition solutions is the key to bring people forward to a healthy lifestyle consuming food and beverages they trust. The challenges are not only that consumers would be able to make better choices because of the better quality that would be available, but also and most importantly Nestlé’s objective is to raise awareness and to make them conscious of what is better to buy. This would enable consumers to make more informed decisions. Practically, the company always provides clear information about the ingredients of the products it is selling as well as their characteristics. It was capable of setting up Healthy Kids Programmes in different countries all over the world, to start teaching healthy lifestyles and physical activity starting from the school age.

b) Rural development

For Nestlé, the provenience of food and beverages is crucial and this is why the company works on improving agricultural practices, from supporting local producers to fighting against deforestation. 30.8 million euros are devoted as a financial assistance to farmers collaborating with Nestlé worldwide. More than 750 000 farmers in the latest two yearssupplied directly to the company and are very much dependent on it. Their wellbeing is related to keeping good relationships with Nestlé firstly by providing good quality products. Thanks to the Farmer Connect Programme, the company supports farmers giving them monetary help, but also job-related help, such as training. Almost half of them, 400 000 farmers, participate to the programme.

c) Water

Water is central to Nestlé’s business and value chain. However nowadays, it is becoming more and more a precious resource we need to preserve. The company aims at using water efficiently and responsibly, respecting the rights to safe, clean water and sanitation. As of today, Nestlé saved 1.7 million m³ of water having set up more than 300 water-saving projects. In 2015, Oxfam ranked it as the company wasting the least amount of water, which was a great achievement. Furthermore, Nestlé developed a Global Water Stewardship Master Plan, consisting in formulating local plans at a corporate level, in order to solve the issue of wasting water, that has been implemented in Pakistan, California, Mexico, South Africa and India most of all. The company also participates in global initiatives such as Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) that focuses on transmitting water education to employees, consumers and communities.

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