Today Nestlé releases its annual “Creating Shared Value” report. The $88 billion multinational and world’s largest food and beverage company, based on annual revenues, has promised to ramp up its work in three main areas: nutrition, water and rural development. In the report, Nestlé has publicly committed for the first time to make “forward-looking commitments” to social and environmental sustainability.
Nestlé’s goals, which the company says it is keen on accomplishing by 2020, builds upon the company’s most recent work. As of last year, Nestlé had invested almost $30 million in water conservation projects at facilities across the world; promised $528 million to encourage responsible agriculture, production and consumption by 2020; and became the first food and beverage company to partner with the United Nations’ Every Woman and Every Child program, which seeks to provide training and education to improve the health and lives of 16 million across the world.
So what are Nestlé’s latest commitments?
According to CEO Paul Bulcke, the difference in Nestlé’s updated corporate social responsibility agenda is that the company has set “tangible, short-term goals” that are measurable instead of aspirational. Included among these goals the company seeks to accomplish before or by 2020 are:
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions per ton of product by 35 percent of baseline 2005 levels by 2015.
- Achieve 100 percent sustainable and certified responsibly sourced palm oil by the end of this year, two years ahead of schedule.
- Cut water consumption per ton of product by 40 percent of 2005 levels by 2015.
- Ensure all children’s food products meet the Nestlé Nutritional Foundation criteria by 2015, and offer portion guidance on all children’s and family products (as the company defines them) by 2015.
- Offer labeling with details about the guideline daily amount on all products by 2016.
- Distribute 200 billion servings of fortified food products worldwide by 2016, targeting women at childbearing age as well as children.
Naturally, the big question is how transparent Nestlé will be with its stakeholders as these commitments unfold this coming decade. Among food and consumer packaged goods companies, Unilever has set the bar high with its Sustainable Living Plan and meticulous updates on how social and environmental goals are performing. And the challenge for Nestlé is huge, as it would be for any company with a long, tangled supply chain. Nevertheless, these new goals are good for consumers, global nutrition efforts and should push the company’s competitors to make similar commitments as well.
Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye is the editor of GreenGoPost.com and frequently writes about business sustainability strategy. Leon also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business; his work has also appeared on Sustainable Brands, Inhabitat and Earth911. Most recently he explored children’s health issues in India with the International Reporting Project. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter or Instagram (greengopost).
[Image credit of Nestlé Headquarters: Wikipedia]