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How food systems impact the environment


The wide-ranging impacts of current food systems on the environment are clear and arguably the most significant drivers of biodiversity loss and land degradation globally. In just England and Wales, intensive agricultural practices result in 2.2 million tonnes of soil lost every year, and food production contributes 15-30% of national emissions.

Addressing these impacts requires a shift away from the current high-intensity model of food systems, towards regenerative models that actively work within the boundaries of natural systems.

Regenerative agricultural approaches work with rather than against nature, harnessing the full potential of natural processes and restoring critical ecosystem services. This enables a reduction in synthetic inputs, irrigation and threats to ecosystem function, delivering more resilient food systems with increased carbon sinks and turning agriculture from a driver of climate change to one of the solutions.

Regenerative agriculture and a regenerative food system

Nestlé has committed to supporting and accelerating the transition to a regenerative food system, starting with plans to increase regenerative agriculture. We are building our plan around the following six priority action areas and adopting a collaborative approach working with farmers and partners around the world to:

  • Drive soil conservation
  • Use organic fertilizers
  • Develop natural habitats
  • Use fewer chemicals
  • Protect watersheds
  • Integrate livestock

The key challenge for us is how can Nestlé, in collaboration with others, support and accelerate the transition to regenerative agriculture in the UK food system and our own supply chains?

Questions the food industry needs to consider

With the complexity of the food industry there's no one correct way to transition to a more regenerative approach. We need to ask ourselves:


  • Is it through accelerating established strategies and programmes, either Nestlé’s own programmes or in collaboration with others?
  • Is it through accelerating the valuation of natural capital, for example as proposed in The Dasgupta’s review, The Economics of Biodiversity
  • Is it through increasing communication to consumers about regenerative agriculture? (A survey by AHDB (Agriculture and Development Board) and YouGov in May 2021, found that only 14% of British consumers have heard of regenerative agriculture, but it is predicted to grow.)
  • Are new opportunities offered by the transition to the Government’s proposed Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme? The UK’s reformed agricultural subsidy system is transitioning from land-based payments to payments for ‘public goods’ in the form of environmental benefits. Nestlé has developed comparable approaches in our own supply chains through the payment of premiums to farmers for adopting environmental standards.


What Nestlé is doing to help move to a regenerative solution

We have a number of initiatives and collaborations on which we could build and are open to innovative ideas and new thinking:


Generation regeneration

Nestlé will work with 500,000 farmers and 150,000 suppliers globally to support them in implementing regenerative agricultural practises to improve soil health and maintain and restore diverse ecosystems.

We expect to source over 14 million tons of our ingredients through regenerative agriculture by 2030. We are also scaling up our reforestation programme to plant 20 million trees every year for the next 20 years. For example, 400 hectares of forests in Côte d'Ivoire have been restored as part of our Cocoa and Forests Initiative, protecting habitats and supporting local communities.


Nestlé UK is a founder of the Land Enterprise Networks (LENS) initiative.

LENs links management and investment in landscapes to the long-term needs of business and society. It does this by helping businesses work together to influence the quality and performance of the landscapes in which they operate.

farmer crouched with children looking at cows

Working with dairy farmers for decades to build long-term sustainable supply chains

In the UK, Nestlé partners with First Milk and the farmers who supply our factories in Cumbria and Ayrshire, to improve the sustainability of their farms and develop a more sustainable and efficient supply chain.

This partnership includes the payment of premiums to dairy farmers to support environmental practices and the protection of natural capital.

Find out how one First Milk farmer is using regenerative methods