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Nestlé pledges $1bn to speed up transition to sustainable coffee production 

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Published: 7 October 2022

The food giant says urgent action is required to combat the loss of coffee growing areas due to climate change, as it announces it will support the transition to regenerative agriculture in countries where it sources its coffee from

Rising temperatures will reduce the area suitable for growing coffee by as much as half by 2050 | Photo by andresr on iStock

Nestlé, which owns the world’s largest coffee brand Nescafé, has pledged to spend over 1bn Swiss francs ($1bn) on making coffee farming more sustainable, more than double the amount it had previously committed.  

The Swiss-based conglomerate said that under its Nescafé Plan 2030, it would support the transition to regenerative agriculture in the countries where it sources over 90% if its coffee: Brazil, Vietnam, Mexico, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Indonesia and Honduras. 

Under the plan, Nestlé is aiming for all of its coffee to be ‘responsibly sourced’ by 2025, and for 50% of its coffee to be sourced from regenerative agricultural methods by 2030.  

Rising temperatures will reduce the area suitable for growing coffee by as much as half by 2050, increasing the pressure on the roughly 125 million people globally – many of them living below the poverty line – who depend on coffee for their livelihoods, according to figures cited by Nestlé.  

“Climate change is putting coffee-growing areas under pressure. Building on 10 years’ experience of the Nescafé Plan, we’re accelerating our work to help tackle climate change and address social and economic challenges in the Nescafé value chains,” David Rennie Head of Nestlé Coffee Brands, said. 

Regenerative agriculture

Regenerative agriculture improves soil health and fertility, which improves yields, while also making the soil better able to withstand climate change impacts. It also aims to protect water resources and stem declines in biodiversity.  

Nestlé said it would provide farmers with training, technical assistance and high-yielding coffee plants as part of the process. Other elements of regenerative agriculture include planting cover crops helps to protect the soil and improve carbon sequestration by increasing soil mass, greater use of organic fertilisers, and more use of agroforestry and intercropping to help preserve biodiversity.

The company said pruning coffee trees or replacing them with disease and climate-change resistant varieties also helps increase yields. 

The company plans to pilot a financial support scheme In Mexico, Côte d’Ivoire and Indonesia that would help farmers transition to regenerative agriculture. It said this could include conditional cash incentives for adopting regenerative agriculture practices, income protection using weather insurance and easier access to credit lines for farmers. 

By improving the extraction of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by increasing plant cover and the organic content of soil, Nestlé also hopes regenerative agriculture will play a role in achieving Nestlé’s net zero emissions targets. The company is seeking to halve its net greenhouse emissions by 2030 and achieve net zero emission by 2050. 

Nestlé’s pledge is the latest in a series of moves by the world’s largest food companies to address environmental and social impacts along their supply chains, which are coming under increasing scrutiny.

In September, Nestlé told NGO Friends of the Earth it would stop sourcing palm oil from subsidiaries of Astra Agro Lestari, an Indonesian palm oil producer that NGOs have accused of environmental harm, land-rights violations and human-rights abuses. 

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