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We use millions of litres of fresh milk each year in our confectionery and hot beverages – in fact, around 1% of the UK’s supply.

Given the effect that dairy farming has on the environment – groundwater pollution, contamination of soil by nutrients, greenhouse gas emissions – we recognise that we have an obligation, along with farmers, to lessen its impact.

The UK Government is replacing Common Agricultural Policy payments with the Environmental Land Management scheme. This will pay farmers for work that enhances the environment, such as tree and hedge planting, river management to mitigate flooding, creating and restoring wildlife habitats.

These are measures that farmers and companies involved in the dairy sector can all take to remove carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it in the ground. British farmers are one of the leading in protecting their local environment and making their industry more resilient to climate change. And we are supporting them in doing so.

First Milk

In 2003, we established our relationship with First Milk, the farmer-owned dairy co-operative based in Ayrshire and Cumbria. Through the partnership we work with 80 farmers who provide high-quality fresh milk for the manufacture of brands such as KitKat and Nescafé Frothy Coffee.

Our goal, and that of First Milk, is to lessen environmental impact by improving the sustainability and efficiency of the supply chain. Each farmer receives a ’sustainability bonus’ for taking practical measures that protect and enhance natural assets on their land.

first milk
We have a cunning plan

The Nestlé Milk Plan includes four practices that are compulsory for farmers, in order to receive the sustainability bonus payment for their milk. The Plan also includes five optional elements that we encourage First Milk farmers to participate in.

 
Compulsory Optional
  1. Optimising carbon storage within soil and fertiliser use to offset carbon in the supply chain
  2. Increasing the biodiversity of farmland
  3. Following Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture guidelines for antibiotics
  4. Reducing single-use and increasing recycled plastics, exploring alternatives
  1. School visits to help children better understand food, farming and the environment
  2. Next Generation Dairy Leaders Programme – helping younger farmers become future leaders
  3. Women in Agriculture Programme - empowering diversity, enabling women to exchange knowledge and shape their futures
  4. Digital innovation - cow monitors and other technologies provide information about the environmental footprint and animal welfare standards
  5. Reducing global deforestation by increasing the use of homegrown forage

 

Cage fighters 

More and more consumers are demanding food products from animals reared in ways that promote good welfare. In 2018 we joined with six other food companies to found the Global Coalition for Animal Welfare (GCAW).

GCAW is the world’s first industry-led collaboration of major companies working with farm animal welfare experts to improve the welfare of animals reared for food.

GCAW has identified five priority work streams:

  1. cage-free policies
  2. improved broiler chicken welfare
  3. farmed fish welfare
  4. antimicrobial resistance
  5. global standards for transportation and slaughter.

All GCAW members have made global commitments to source cage-free eggs by 2025.

It’s there in black and white

As specified in our Nestlé Commitment on Farm Animal Welfare, pdf 1.5Mb) and in our Nestlé Responsible Sourcing Standard (pdf, 2.4Mb), we support the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIEI) in promoting implementation of the ‘Five Freedoms’ for animals in the global food supply chain:

  1. Freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition
  2. Freedom from fear and distress
  3. Freedom from physical and thermal discomfort
  4. Freedom from pain, injury and disease
  5. Freedom to express normal patterns of behaviour

Following the herd

We’re also taking part in an Innovate UK trial with SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College) and other partners to test cow sensors in Scotland.

  • The trial will look at ways to reassure consumers and retailers about the environmental footprint and animal welfare standards of dairy farming
  • Environmental and animal-mounted sensors, cameras and other technologies will be used by farmers to monitor their herds

With the information gained, we’ll develop algorithms to provide indexes of environmental emissions and cow welfare.

cows feeding on hay