Nestlé UK & Ireland aim for fully sustainable cocoa sourcing by 2015

Our intern, Robbie Pyburn reports: 

Nestlé UK & Ireland and Tata Global Beverages are the latest major companies to reveal plans to accomplish sustainable sourcing. If Nestlé achieves its goal of 100 per cent sustainable sourcing of cocoa by 2015, it will be the first major confectionery company to do so in UK and Ireland.

Nestlé UK & Ireland say that currently 60 per cent of the cocoa (around 80,000 tonnes in 2014) purchased by the company comes from sustainable sources. Andrew McIver, Confectionery Managing Director at Nestlé UK & Ireland said the company aimed to be the first to reach the “landmark goal” and were on track to reach complete sustainability by the end of next year.

The goal is part of the Nestlé Cocoa Plan, which aims to support small-scale cocoa farmers and develop a sustainable supply chain from certified farms. Fairtrade Foundation and UTZ Certified are both partners of the plan, which has also been adopted in several other major Nestlé markets including the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ecuador.

The achievement would be a great milestone for Nestlé, especially with the increasing consumer demand of Fairtrade products. Statistics show that between 2007 and 2011 UK sales of Fairtrade products rose 168 per cent, and sales still continue to increase.

Meanwhile Tata Global Beverages, the world’s second largest tea producer, also revealed plans to reach fully sustainable sourcing by 2020. Along with Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company Unilever, Yorkshire Tea and Finlays, Tata have set the goal as part of their combined Tea 2030 partnership.

Ajoy Misra, Managing Director and CEO of Tata Global Beverages said the company had a commitment in reducing the use of synthetic plant protection formulations in the supply chain in order to improve sustainability.

Like Nestlé, the latest goal put forward by the Tea 2030 partnership shows a huge sign of intent amid an increasing trend towards more ethical sourcing.

Rainforest Alliance organisation claim that up to 14 per cent of the world’s cocoa and tea supply is under sustainable management, but there is still room for improvement. In an interview with Tensie Whelan, President of Rainforest Allaince said that while major businesses and consumers are beginning to have a paradigm shift, the same couldn’t be said of the government sector.

She said governments needed to “create a level playing field, with good regulation that is enforced, and positive incentives for sustainable production and consumption.”

Fortunately an increasing number of UK food brands are adopting sustainable sourcing plans. Earlier this year, UK confectionery company Mars also introduced a new sourcing policy requiring all of its suppliers to have fully sustainable supplies of palm oil across all operations by the end of 2015. (You may also remember our feature last year about Mars and the work they have been doing with Sourcemap in Africa).

In February, Oxfam released a list ranking 10 major food companies according to their sustainable sourcing practices and support for human rights. Nestlé and Unilever topped the list, whilst Mars came joint sixth.

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