SWITZERLAND – Swiss food manufacturing giant, Nestlé has announced the creation of the Nestlé Institute of Agricultural Sciences to support regenerative agriculture efforts. 

As part of Nestlé’s global research organization, the institute will be based in state-of-the-art facilities in Lausanne, Switzerland – which are due to be formally inaugurated later this year.  

It will also include 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. 

According to Nestlé, the new institute will help identify the most promising agricultural technologies and accelerate the translation of novel agricultural science into concrete applications.  

In close collaboration with internal and external partners, it will assess and combine science-based solutions to improve the nutritional and sensorial qualities and the environmental impact of agricultural raw materials. 

Stefan Palzer, Nestlé CTO, said solutions developed will support farmers in improving their environmental footprint, in reducing food and nutrient losses, and in better adapting to climate change while ensuring the quality of the raw materials they produce. 

Nestlé invests yearly CHF 1.7 billion (US$1.84bn) in research and development to accelerate the innovation of science-based products across life stages, in a way that’s good for you and the planet. 

Its research work has seen scientific discoveries such as the recently announced high-yield, drought and disease resistant coffee varieties.  

To make its cocoa sourcing program even more sustainable, Nestlé also recently announced plans to invest €1.25bn (US$1.43bn) into the sector by 2030. 

The funds will be injected into projects to tackle child labour risks, increase farmer income and achieve full traceability in cocoa production. 

Greenwashing claims 

As Nestle makes concerted efforts to rid its supply chain of carbon emissions, the company alongside other CPG giants such as Unilever has found itself on the spot over greenwashing claims. 

A recent report by NewClimate Institute noted that Nestlé’s interim emission reduction target of 50% by 2030 may really mean only an 18% reduction compared to its entire 2018 emissions footprint.  

The report further noted that close analysis of Nestlé’s planned trajectory and targets for specific emission sources lead us to interpret that Nestlé’s 50% by 2030 target may be compared to a business-as-usual scenario and covers only selected emission sources. 

In a rebuttal, Nestlé refuted the claims by the institute, insisting that climate targets are measured against a 2018 baseline of 92 million tonnes of CO2e, meaning it intends to deliver in ‘absolute terms’ a reduction of 46 million tonnes of CO2e by 2030. 

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