SWITZERLAND – Nestlé, one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies, has inaugurated its Institute of Agricultural Sciences to advance sustainable food systems by delivering science-based solutions in agriculture.

At the new institute, Nestlé experts screen and develop solutions in key focus areas, such as plant science, agricultural systems, and dairy livestock.

With global food systems under pressure, the Swiss food conglomerate said there is an urgent need to accelerate new approaches that ensure a sustainable food supply for a growing world population while contributing to farmer livelihoods.

Paul Bulcke, Nestlé Chairman, said: “We have nurtured direct relationships with generations of farmers globally. To continue providing people with tasty, nutritious, and affordable foods, we need to transition together to a more sustainable food system.”

“The new institute will strengthen our expertise and use our global network to support farming communities and protect our planet.”

The institute also builds on the company’s existing plant science expertise in coffee and cocoa and is now expanding it to further crops, including pulses and grains.

The institute is also working with farmers to trial regenerative agriculture practices to improve soil health and encourage biodiversity, in addition to exploring novel approaches in dairy farming that have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the areas of cow feed and manure management.

Jeroen Dijkman, Head of the Nestlé Institute of Agricultural Sciences, said: “Our goal is to identify the most promising solutions to promote the production of nutritious raw materials while minimizing their environmental impact. We take a holistic approach and look at several factors, including impact on yield, carbon footprint, food safety, and cost, as well as the viability of scale-up.”

Apart from farmers, the institute collaborates closely with other external partners, including universities, research organizations, startups, and industry partners, to assess and develop science-based solutions.

Nestlé to pilot satellite technology in monitoring reforestation projects

At the same time, Nestlé will be the first food and beverage company to pilot Airbus’s new Pléiades Neo satellites in the monitoring of its reforestation efforts.

The company will use cutting-edge technology that produces very high-resolution images to help it supply precise data on how the trees planted in sourcing regions are thriving over the long term.

In the program, the company will first apply the technology in the Ranong and Chumphon provinces of Southern Thailand, where a reforestation project has been ongoing since last year.

Pléiades Neo satellites will monitor more than 150 000 shade trees in farms from where Nestlé sources its coffee for over 20 years. Based on the findings, Nestlé will determine whether to expand the approach to other locations worldwide.

The approach will help Nestlé demonstrate the amount of carbon it is removing from the atmosphere through its Global Reforestation Program, a key pillar of its 2050 net zero emissions ambition.

The company explained that shade trees help prevent coffee’s over-exposure to the sun and increase yield and productivity in the long term, while also removing carbon from the atmosphere.

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