This conversation with Benjamin Ware, manager of Responsible Sourcing for Nestlé, explores the role of large corporations in regenerative agriculture. As this is a transition, it is a slow process so don’t expect Nestlé to buy 100% regenerative products in 10 years and there might be a role for some chemical inputs in the transition.
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What is the role of companies that make billions of dollars a year in the regenerative transition? What are their challenges moving from an intransparent, opaque, fundamentally extractive food system towards a regenerative one?
These are the questions answered in this episode of Investing in Regenerative Agriculture as Nestlé’s Global Head of Climate Delivery and Sustainable Sourcing, Benjamin Ware, talks about the role of the biggest food conglomerates like Nestlé in the world’s transition to regenerative agriculture.
Nestlé’s Efforts on Setting Higher Ethical Standards
Nestlé took a big step towards regenerative agriculture when they took the UN’s 1.5 Degree Pledge in 2019, a pledge that aims to set higher ethical standards for their operations. Although according to Benjamin, one of the biggest challenges this commitment brought even for conglomerates like Nestlé is its wide scope and baseline. Practically, they source 29 million tonnes of raw materials from 86 different countries yearly, without owning any farms themselves.
“I think this is one of the very positive consequences of the 1.5 Degree Pledge that we signed 18 months ago. It has put a different spin to the sustainable sourcing practices in calling for the measurements of the outputs, rather than just the practices.” – Benjamin Ware
Barriers That Nestlé Tries to Pass Through
Consumers, especially those from fast-moving economies, now seek transparency on the products they purchase. This is especially happening for food products as consumers begin to prefer healthier products with more sustainable materials and packaging. What makes this a challenge for Nestlé is that the size, quantity, and complexity of materials make their sourcing counterintuitive to the regenerative movement.
“The idea is not to vertically integrate the supply chain and to own more. The idea and the strategy is definitely to stabilise the supply chain.” – Benjamin Ware
How Nestlé Contributes the Promotion of Regenerative Agriculture
Benjamin reveals that there are three things that Nestlé could contribute as one of the main commercial players. These include opting for multicrops, federating the farming community, and promoting the stabilisation of the supply chain. Although political and risky, Benjamin believes that these transformational changes are the industry’s first few steps towards regenerative transition.
“One of our roles is to engage the farming community in an inclusive manner.” – Benjamin Ware
How Other Organisations Contribute Towards Regenerative Transition
Just like big corporations, the government, the academia, and other organisations also play a role in regenerative transition. It’s their responsibility to devise methodologies that would measure the soil carbon capture, soil organic matter, or the outputs of these practices. These data take decades to gather but collaborating with different organisations and other big corporations makes it possible.
“You need to look at the implementation of the regenerative agricultural practices at the landscape and community level.” – Benjamin Ware
Other Important Points Discussed:
Koen and Benjamin also discussed:
- Benjamin’s take on the general public’s beliefs about regenerative agriculture that he thinks are misconceptions;
- How helpful it would be if all farmers and everyone in the industry would be connected to each other for identity preservation; and
- that he would invest a billion dollars on technologies that help in carbon reductions and removals, a problem that is often ignored by the industry.
To know more about Benjamin Ware and Nestle, download and listen to this episode.
Feedback, comments, suggestions? Reach me via Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.
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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.