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Supporting dairy farmers


We believe in the goodness of milk

Milk is an important source of nutrients, such as protein, calcium, and vitamins, and contributes to the economic livelihoods of many farmers.

Globally, milk and dairy ingredients are Nestlé's biggest raw material by volume, used in its dairy and infant nutrition products, ice cream, beverages and confectionery. They are also the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions for the company. Nestlé's dairy and livestock supply chains accounted for 34.2 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2018.

Tackling this is a priority – solutions to reduce dairy emissions will be essential in Nestlé's journey to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. There is no one-size-fits all approach. Different practices and different solutions need to be applied in different combinations depending on an individual farm's crops, livestock, environment, soil type, and many other factors.

Nestlé and New Zealand dairy

Nestlé has sourced dairy from New Zealand for well over a hundred years and today, locally-grown dairy is exported for use in other countries as well as being a vital part of products enjoyed locally such as Maggi Beef Stroganoff and KitKat.

New Zealand dairy already enjoys natural advantages, with a pasture-based system and farmers who are sophisticated and highly efficient, presenting economic opportunities for the industry and farmers alike as Nestlé seeks dairy ingredients grown with lower emissions.

That said, to reach net zero, we need to work together to push the boundaries and continue to reduce the emissions associated with dairy, wherever we source. It is important that we do this by supporting a just transition for farmers as they invest in transforming their farms.

For this reason, Nestlé is working with our New Zealand suppliers – Fonterra, Open Country Dairy and Synlait – to support New Zealand dairy farmers to develop new economic opportunities and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. We will do this by prioritising sourcing from farmers who share our vision for lowering dairy emissions, by providing technical support, and by paying a premium for their products.

Actively supporting New Zealand’s dairy industry

We are expanding initiatives aiming at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, preserving water resources and supporting regenerative agriculture on the farms we source milk from. Projects underway in New Zealand include:

  • Sourcing from farmers who share our vision for lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and paying a premium as their farms transition
  • Projects to improve nutrient management, including fertiliser use on-farm, with the aim of reducing on-farm greenhouse gas emissions
  • A pilot farm in Taranaki aimed at demonstrating how to develop a profitable net zero emissions approach to farming
  • Working with farmers to plant over a million native plants on marginal land on farms. Planting trees on unproductive dairy farmland such as steep areas, gullies, riparian areas and wetlands can sequester carbon on farmland without affecting productive grazing land
  • Projects to reduce on-farm greenhouse emissions by accelerating the adoption of good farming practices
  • Supporting Dairy NZ’s Tararua Plantain Rollout project, aimed at reducing nitrogen leaching.
Tree planting

Reducing emissions in dairy around the world

Around the world, Nestlé is continuing to explore different approaches to reduce dairy's greenhouse gas emissions. The company is working with farmers, suppliers, leading universities, industry organisations, start-ups and governments to research, test, validate and scale up different agricultural solutions and technologies, including for dairy livestock.

This includes over 100 pilot projects with partners around the world, including 20 pilot farms testing a path towards net zero emissions. Nestlé will share its experience from these projects as it scales up its efforts and encourages wider industry transformation.

  • One area of research is on feed supplements that can reduce methane emissions from enteric fermentation - the cow's digestion process and the largest source of emissions in fresh milk production. In the United States, for instance, Nestlé is facilitating research to assess the efficacy and the human, animal and environmental health and safety aspects of feed supplements, which have the potential to reduce enteric methane emissions.
  • The second biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions on a dairy farm is from the feed for cows - for example, from its production and storage. Nestlé is working with farmers to implement regenerative agriculture practices, such as the introduction of cover crops or more widespread use of organic fertilisers, in the production of feed to cut emissions. Farmers on one of Nestlé's pilot farms in South Africa, for instance, are growing their own multispecies pasture for animal feed while reducing the use of chemical fertilisers. This helps improve soil quality, which enables more carbon capture. The company also supports farmers in calculating exactly how much of what feed ingredient is best to improve productivity while reducing overfeeding proteins and reducing methane emissions and feed waste.
  • Better manure management will also help reduce dairy farm emissions. We promote separating cow manure into liquids and solids, the construction of biogas digestors or vermicompost systems. The composted remains are returned to the soil as a fertiliser.

In addition to these approaches, Nestlé is working with many more dairy farmers around the world: farmers are planting trees or transitioning to silvopasture systems, introducing multispecies pastures, rotational or mob grazing, collecting and storing manure, and adopting more renewable sources of energy.