Nestlé’s palm oil turnaround

NESTLE HAS come a long way since that viral in 2010 – the one with the bored office worker who bites off a finger of a Kit Kat that turns out to be a bloody orang-utan finger. Campaigners at Greenpeace had found that the company was sourcing from Sinar Mas, an Indonesian supplier that it claimed was unsustainably clearing forest to produce palm oil. The gory video was produced and some pretty gruesome PR decisions ensued.


But that was 2010. This is 2012, and Nestlé UK & Ireland has been purchasing palm oil from 100% certified sustainable sources since January – a full three years ahead of the company’s 2015 target to source 100% RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) certified palm oil. Some 70% of the palm oil it uses in the UK is traceable back to RSPO certified plantations. The remaining 30%, which consists of more complex derivatives of palm oil that are more difficult to trace through the supply chain, is purchased through the GreenPalm programme. ?The GreenPalm programme supports the production of sustainable palm oil through a certificate trading scheme, which is designed to tackle the environmental and social problems created by the production of palm oil by rewarding the growers of RSPO certified palm oil. The company said it is “working towards” 100% fully traceable.


The improvement is something the company has continued to publicise, and is one of the “headline figures” in its new report entitled: “Creating Shared Value Plan 2012: Building a Sustainable Future”.


The report details the progress the company has made towards meeting its sustainability targets. Other key achievements in 2012 include reducing absolute water usage by 36% against a 2006 baseline (ahead of the company target and the Federation House Commitment target of 20% by 2020), working in partnership with various NGOs to ensure that key commodity ingredients are responsibly sourced, launching a global commitment on natural capital and as part of this, adopting a strategy to identify the company’s reliance and potential impact on the nature around production sites in the UK.


Neil Stephens, managing director of Nestlé Professional said: “As a business, we believe that to guarantee long-term success, it’s vital to create value.  Whether it is for shareholders, the communities in which we operate or for society as a whole, working to create social, environmental and economic value is central to how we do business.”


  • Sustainability reporting was the subject of a recent Footprint Forum – a summary of the event will be available in January’s magazine.