Supplier engagement

engage suppliers

Supplier engagement

What is the issue?

Water plays a major role in our supply chain, particularly in agriculture. To manage our overall impact on water effectively, including reducing consumption and the risk of flooding, it’s vital that we engage our farmers and other suppliers.

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Why is it important?

As a major food company, we depend on a large supply chain of farmers, manufacturers and others, in the UK and abroad. By engaging successfully with these suppliers we can have a significant impact on water management issues.


  • In progress
  • By 2017 – Define and start to implement action plans to save water in our milk supply chains.

Protected water resources through improved water source management.


More resilient supply chains, ensuring a sustainable supply for the future.

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What are we doing about it?

At Nestlé, we engage suppliers with environmental issues (including water issues) through a range of projects and initiatives, often carried out in partnership with independent environmental experts and conservation groups. Our approach is to work closely with farmers and other suppliers to identify opportunities to improve water management, and then roll-out interventions to address them.

In the UK, we are working with our First Milk dairy farmers to help them better understand their impact on water quality and water consumption, and find ways to improve it. This work, which also covers flood prevention and pollution issues, is being carried out in partnership with the Rivers Trust and Business in the Community.

Over the past year we have been working with food and drink sector businesses to help them improve their water stewardship. We are delighted that Nestlé has been such an active partner in the project. The work the company is doing with its dairy supply chain in Cumbria with the Rivers Trust, as well as in its own operations, shows that business-led action can catalyse positive change.
Gudrun Cartwright, Environment Director, Business in the Community.

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What’s next?

In 2016, we will work with the Rivers Trust and Business in the Community to help our dairy farmers better understand their impact on water quality and water consumption, and find ways to improve it. The project will focus on investing in farm infrastructure to address water efficiency and management issues.

We plan to begin this work with trial assessments and interventions on a small number of farms. If these are successful, we plan to roll-out the programme more widely in the next few years.

Also in 2016, we are launching our Next Generation of Dairy Leaders programme, a scheme for young farmers to help develop their leadership skills. The programme will include activities to raise awareness of effective water stewardship.

In future we plan to replicate our water engagement work with dairy farmers across our wider supply chain.