SWITZERLAND – Swiss food manufacturing giant Nestlé has voiced its support for ambitious action by the European Union (EU) to tackle issues of deforestation that currently face a number of commodities such as coffee, cocoa, and palm oil.

The EU plan includes increasing supply chain transparency and traceability for commodities that may be linked to deforestation such as the one mentioned above.

Palm oil has for instance been considered as one of the major drivers of deforestation,  contributing to an estimated 5% of tropical deforestation in tropical areas, according to FAO data.

The European Commission further notes that when looking at global deforestation, palm oil contributes to 2.3% of global deforestation, this is in addition to displacing endangered species like the Orangutan, pygmy elephant and Sumatran rhino.

Supply chain transparency and traceability helps to tackle this problem by providing leading companies with information about the origin of their products.

Knowing where commodities originate from helps identify and tackle deforestation where it occurs. It also helps to ensure that all actors step up, be accountable and actively protect forests.

Nestlé joins signatories including Sainsbury’s and Tesco who have called on the EU to scale up the use of innovative technologies in improving supply chain traceability.

The signatories are also encouraging the  EU to strengthen cooperation with producing countries to ensure the protection and restoration of forests.

Fighting deforestation in food supply chains is not new to Nestlé as the company boast of a decade-long experience in eliminating deforestation in its key supply chains, managing to source 90% of its key commodities from deforestation free supply chains.

The company notes that from its experience, a combination of tools, including supply chain mapping and disclosure, on-the-ground verification, and satellite monitoring are effective in tracing commodities back to where they were produced.

In addition to achieving transparent supply chains, more collective action between companies, governments and civil society is needed to end deforestation.

This collective action will be incentivized if there is a clear set of rules that pushes companies to take impactful action on the ground to protect human rights and the environment.

More intense dialogue between major consumer and producing countries, as well as steering flows of finance and investment towards sustainable activities and supply chains, will both be essential to ensure a fair international trade system.

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