Vegetables

Vegetables are an increasingly important raw material for us. As we look to inspire healthier living, we’re putting nutritious products at the forefront of our portfolio, with simpler and more natural ingredients. At the same time, consumers want to know more about where their foods come from and how they are made. That’s why we’ve added vegetables to our key raw materials.

Sourcing vegetables responsibly

We purchase many vegetables, including carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions and spinach. Traceability and compliance are at the heart of our approach, and our goal is to ensure respect for ethical standards, reduce the environmental impact of agricultural practices and enhance biodiversity within our supply chain.

Nestlé’s Food business sources a lot of processed vegetables to cook their receipes. These ingredients must be nutritious, but we also want to ensure that they have been grown with respect for people and the environment. We have added vegetables to our list of key ingredients not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because more and more of our consumers expect this from us.

Among consumers, there is a shift toward healthier products and a desire to know more about what goes into our foods. As well as making our products healthier, we’re putting more ‘kitchen cupboard’ ingredients in our products, so consumers recognize and are familiar with what goes into their foods.

Vegetables are a key ingredient for several of our brands, including Wagner, Maggi, and Solis in Spain, as well as Garden Gourmet. Tomatoes are among the vegetables we purchase the largest quantity of – around 70 000 tonnes a year – usually already processed.

We want to initiate a positive change across the farms supplying our vegetables. Since we mainly purchase processed ingredients from our suppliers, we have designed this program to help drive this change at the farms supplying them. To start this journey, we have selected 21 of our largest suppliers, together covering more than 72% of our EMENA (Europe, Middle East and North Africa) zone supply, for the vegetables we currently focus on. Behind these suppliers are large-scale farming operations as well as farmers growing vegetables on only a few hectares. The program provides a toolbox that can be used to support all kinds of farmers to improve their practices and sustain their operations. Nestlé provides an operational framework and supports the suppliers embarking on this journey with technical and material assistance.

As we drive the implementation of our Responsible Sourcing Standard (pdf, 2Mb), we are also dedicated to communicating clearly with customers our robust and dedicated responsible sourcing practices.

Our main sources of vegetables

Belgium, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, UK, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.

Our progress

CSV - Vegetables - stat traceable source

70%*

of our vegetables volume was traceable back to source in 2018

CSV - Vegetables - stat responsibly sourced

74%*

of our vegetables volume was responsibly sourced in 2018

* The scope of the program and KPIs currently encompasses processed vegetables (tomatoes, bell peppers, spinach, onions and carrots) supplied to Nestlé food factories in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. This scope will increase every year.

Supply chain challenges and solutions

There is a growing need for vegetables that are available year-round, produced in a safe and resource-efficient manner, and of a consistently high quality. This demand leads to the proliferation of industrial farms and the adoption of rapidly evolving technologies such as the mechanization of harvesting activities, the usage of satellites to analyze soils and crops, and also a widespread usage of chemical substances. Small-scale farmers struggle to keep up, and the environment suffers from some of these innovations and large-scale operations.

As the vegetable industry continues to grow, and large-scale farms continue to dominate, the risks to the environment and small-scale farmers increase. Land use is intensifying and more and more land is being converted to vegetable farming, which means an increase in the use of water, fertilizers and chemicals. This trend, along with diminishing market prices, is taking its toll on farmers, soil health and biodiversity, and also the quantity and quality of water.

Poor working conditions are also a key risk in the vegetables supply chain. Though the situation varies significantly from country to country, agricultural workers often suffer tough working and living conditions due to many factors such as, but not limited to, chemical substances exposure, extreme weather conditions, musculoskeletal injuries and machinery-related injuries.

Implementing our strategy for responsible sourcing

As a major purchaser of vegetables, we recognize the social and environmental challenges and risks of the industry, and we’re working proactively with our suppliers to not only participate in addressing them, but also go beyond compliance and create shared value for as many actors as possible within our supply chain. The program aims to ‘ensure respect for ethical standards, reduce the environmental impact of agricultural practices and enhance biodiversity within our vegetables supply chain’. At the strategy’s heart is our Responsible Sourcing Standard (pdf, 2Mb).

To help us successfully design and implement our strategy, we have partnered with , a Spanish nonprofit organization that has spent 25 years protecting nature and biodiversity. We are also working with the , which provides innovative agricultural solutions to the most pressing environmental and social issues of our time.

Starting in 2017, we began to identify where to focus our efforts. This began with supplier audits within our processed tomato supply chain, where independent verification firms have checked whether our direct suppliers were implementing our Responsible Sourcing Standard. Following these audits, we realized that because the industry’s focus had traditionally been more on quality and food safety, some labor and environmental aspects had been left behind.

Since identifying these issues, we have worked with our direct suppliers to map our supply chain right down to the processors closest to the farms, and which receive the vegetables directly from farmers. SAN is playing a crucial role; they are helping us with the mapping process and also to verify our processors’ traceability management system in those cases where certification doesn’t exist. In order to hold our suppliers and ourselves accountable as well as drive industry-wide transparency, we are making available the list of our Vegetables Tier 1 suppliers and the list of their processing sites (pdf, 385 Kb), along with the country of origin.

Once the processors have been identified, we ask them to organize farm assessments that will provide a baseline for the situation at each sourcing location. We then expect each processor to develop and implement an improvement plan in all farms supplying them, in order to help them meet our minimum ethical standards.

With a selection of our suppliers, we go further than compliance and help the farmers and suppliers to manage more carefully their impact on the environment and the community around them. We are beginning to support them in implementing some key agricultural practices around water, soils, nutrients, crop protection and energy, which FGN identified would provide the greatest impact. We will also help them to launch and implement their own biodiversity enhancement roadmap. To help these suppliers implement their improvements, we leverage SAN’s international network of partners.

In 2018, this strategy covers five vegetables (tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers, spinach and onions) sourced through 21 suppliers. With each passing year, new vegetables and geographies will be added into the scope in order to expand the program’s reach and come closer to our goals. The challenges ahead are immense and crucial for every stakeholder in our supply chain. We chose to gradually expand our progam to ensure continuous, step-by-step and concrete progress.


Related policies

Download our Creating Shared Value report

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