Partnering with research organizations, start-ups, independent partners and farmers, the company invested CHF 1.7 billion ($1.9bn) annually in R&D, taking a “holistic approach and [looking] at several factors including impact on yield, carbon footprint, food safety and cost, as well as the viability of scale-up,” explained Jeroen Dijkman, head of Nestlé Institute of Agricultural Sciences
“The new institute will strengthen our expertise and use our global network to support farming communities and protect our planet,” said Paul Bulcke, Nestlé chairman in a recent press release. The research institute also includes the company’s plant science unit in France, as well as existing cocoa, coffee, and dairy research farms based in Ecuador, Côte d'Ivoire, Thailand and Switzerland.
Specifically, the institute will focus on three areas: plant science, dairy livestock and sustainable agricultural systems.
“The institute screens and develops solutions that can be implemented at the farm level, to improve the environmental impact of agricultural raw materials we source from farmers,” a spokesperson from Nestlé told FoodNavigator-USA.
Building on Nestlé’s existing plant science programs, Nestlé Cocoa Plan and Nescafé Plan, which develop high yield, drought and disease resistant cocoa and coffee varieties, the institute will expand into developing nutritional pulses and grains as plant-based alternatives for meat, seafood and dairy.
Whereas for livestock, which contributes approximately 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, Nestlé’s dairy farming initiatives will include reducing emissions through cow feed and manure management.
En route to net-zero by 2050 through collaborations and research
Nestlé’s 2020 Net Zero Roadmap mapped out a climate mitigation plan to reach net-zero by 2050. Partnering with research organizations like the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) has pushed the company into exploring comprehensive solutions to mitigate climate change while increasing nutritional quality and yield in dairy and crop farming. Nestlé reported investing CHG 2.8 million in the partnership.
In collaboration with farmers, Nestlé will work with farmers to build a regenerative food system by improving soil health and encouraging biodiversity through regenerative agricultural practices. The company explained to FoodNavigator-USA that working closely with farmers is the most promising solution “to improve the environmental impact of agricultural raw materials, while also supporting farmers globally in reducing food and nutrient losses and in better adopting to climate change.”