Dairy is our single biggest category by volume. Milk and milk derivatives are used in many of our products, including dairy and infant nutrition products, as well as ice cream, beverages and confectionery. Milk is an important ingredient in nutrition, as it contains large quantities of first-rate protein, and is also an important source of energy, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, as well as many essential vitamins and trace minerals.

Sourcing dairy responsibly

Unlike many of our ingredients, dairy is sourced from around the world, which provides opportunities to develop quality standards and introduce economic, social and environmental sustainability.

Sourcing safe, high-quality milk is a top priority for us. Our milk is sourced from many countries around the world, from small-scale producers to large dairy farms. Each farming environment has different individual, regional or national characteristics and challenges, so we do not impose a one-size-fits-all approach. The relationships we build with farmers enable us to identify their particular challenges, and our Theory of Change (ToC) provides a model for working together to resolve these issues. We also make use of tools such as the to help farmers form a holistic view of the sustainability of their agricultural production at farm level. Where required, we revisit the production system with stakeholders, especially farmers, and help them to transition to more economically, socially and environmentally sustainable production systems.

These challenges influence the quality of the milk supply, responsible sourcing and environmental sustainability. Our approach means that whether it’s an individual farmer with one cow in Sri Lanka or a large farming business in the US, every liter of milk we purchase will meet our stringent quality and safety standards.

In order to support markets and co-manufacturers to develop and define the appropriate quality management system, we developed a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point tool. This further enables markets to evolve, as it provides them with a locally adapted food safety net to ensure safe, high-quality milk.

Our main sources of dairy

Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Thailand, Zimbabwe.

Our progress

CSV - Dairy - progress - sourced


of our total dairy volume purchased in 2018 was responsibly sourced

CSV - Dairy - progress - traceable


of our total dairy volume purchased in 2018 was traceable

CSV - Dairy - progress - sourced directly

237 000

The number of dairy farmers from whom we source directly

Supply chain challenges and solutions


Animal welfare

We recognize and share our stakeholders’ concerns about the welfare of animals raised for food and the need to ensure sustainable animal production systems. Through our Supplier Code and Responsible Sourcing Standard, which contain a specific commitment on this issue, we are helping bring about positive change throughout our supply chains.

Our mandatory Nestlé Responsible Sourcing Standard (pdf, 2Mb) requires our suppliers of animal-derived ingredients to meet all applicable laws and regulations on animal welfare. They are also required to communicate this to their suppliers and to the farmers themselves. Our Nestlé Commitment on Farm Animal Welfare (pdf, 1Mb) details how we will further improve the health, care and welfare of the farm animals in our supply chain.

We are dedicated to eliminating from our global supply chain specific practices that are not consistent with the internationally accepted Five Freedoms:
  • Freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition.
  • Freedom from fear and distress.
  • Freedom from physical and thermal discomfort.
  • Freedom from pain, injury and disease.
  • Freedom to express normal patterns of behavior.

In the case of dairy, we are focusing specifically on:
  • Painful practices such as tail docking, dehorning and disbudding without the use of anesthesia and analgesia.
  • Confinement practices such as permanent tethering.
  • The responsible use of antibiotics, in line with World Organisation for Animal Health (, a global measure of animal welfare standards in food companies supported by nonprofit organizations and . In the 2017 report (published in February 2018), Nestlé remained in the ‘Tier 3: Established but work to be done’ ranking.

    Working with others to develop global standards

    We participate in an international, multistakeholder working group that has developed an technical specification (. The TS is science based, non-prescriptive and outcome based. It will facilitate the integration of animal welfare principles in business-to-business relations between suppliers and customers, and provide a route to demonstrate conformance through additional assurance by an external party. We are working to implement the TS in our supply chain and engage with the OIE to develop further species-specific guidance.


    Assessing suppliers


    Our Responsible Sourcing Standard

    Our dairy suppliers are assessed against our Responsible Sourcing Standard (pdf, 2Mb), with a focus on animal welfare, labor practices and environmental impact. We engage with independent auditors such as SGS and Bureau Veritas, who carry out farm assessments using a responsible sourcing assessment tool we developed in partnership with nonprofit organization . Since the beginning of our program, we have carried out more than 1163 farm assessments in 23 countries, identifying opportunities and areas for improvement. With the input from our external stakeholders, assessments also help us identify remediation and capacity-building activities.

    In addition, to hold our suppliers and ourselves accountable as well as drive industry-wide transparency, we are making available the list of our Dairy ingredients suppliers (pdf, 915Kb) as well as information about our fresh milk supply chain (pdf, 390Kb).


    Dairy 4 You helps us source milk more sustainably

    Dairy 4 You continues to act as an umbrella for a range of activities as part of our brand purpose. It has two main objectives:
    • To continuously improve our sourcing operations, with a focus on traceability, trusted milk quality, responsible sourcing and agripreneurship.
    • To proactively share with consumers information on the entire value chain, on the work done with local farmers and communities, and on all the projects to enhance environmental sustainability (particularly on water, emissions and natural resources).

    Helping Brazilian dairy farms become more sustainable

    Since 2011, we have been supporting Brazilian dairy farmers to become more sustainable through the NATA technical assistance program. In the past seven years, we have provided more than 900 farmers with individual plans to increase production volumes and improve the quality of their milk. Today, 23% of the milk we source directly comes from NATA farms. Additionally, NATA farms have grown twice as fast as non-NATA farms in the past three years.

    Highlights from the program in 2018 include the development and use of an app that gives farmers easy access to all the information they need about their milk supply. Additionally, Nestlé technicians in partnership with nonprofit are supporting farmers on animal nutrition, herd genetics, reproduction and farm economics. We are also continuing to help farmers implement best practices on animal welfare and the environment.

    As the program grows, we aim to train all technicians twice a year and monitor farms on a monthly basis.


    More information

    Nestlé Farm Animal Welfare Q&A (pdf, 191 Kb)

Related policies

Download our Creating Shared Value report

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