Meat, poultry and eggs

We buy a range of meat, poultry and egg products from a wide variety of farmers around the world through our trade channels. We buy processed meat in the form of cooked and dehydrated products, oils and powders, as well as unprocessed cooked, frozen and fresh meat for use as ingredients in a range of our food products. Most of our meat and poultry is used for ready-made and frozen meals and for pet food, while eggs are mostly used for mayonnaise, pasta and pastry. In 2016, we purchased a total of 1.7 million tonnes of meat, poultry and eggs.

How we source meat, poultry and eggs

We began implementing our Responsible Sourcing requirements for meat, poultry and eggs in 2014. Initial progress has been slow because much of the meat and poultry we buy is by-product, used for pet food, and harder to trace. Our current assessment focus is on our food business.

We are working towards further improving farm animal health and welfare in our supply chain. We assess practices at farm level using the Nestlé Responsible Sourcing Assessment protocol, developed in conjunction with World Animal Protection. Our collaboration with them made us the first major food company to form a partnership with an animal welfare non-governmental organisation (NGO). World Animal Protection subsequently helped us develop our category-specific requirements (pdf, 1.58Mb), which cover issues such as breeding, feeding, housing, husbandry, health, transport and slaughtering.

Meat, poultry and eggs supply chain challenges and solutions

The main issues identified within the supply chain relate to poor farm practices across a range of areas, or animal welfare. We are putting in place remedies for the specific issues we find, and are implementing a specific policy in the case of cage-free eggs.

Farm assessments

During the assessments, we met engaged farmers who were open to visits and discussions. On some farms, assessments identified improvement areas, such as chemical storage and animal welfare. Together with farmers, we are gradually implementing remedial actions, including animal welfare, at farm level.

Together with World Animal Protection and our supply chain partners, we will continue to work to further improve farm animal welfare in our supply chain by ensuring compliance with our Responsible Sourcing Guideline requirements to ensure the highest possible levels of farm animal welfare along our supply chain.

Animal welfare

We recognise and share our stakeholders’ concerns about the welfare of animals raised for food and the need to ensure sustainable animal production systems. Through our Supplier Code and Responsible Sourcing Guideline, which contain a specific commitment on this issue, we are helping bring about positive change throughout our supply chains. For example, in the United States in 2016 we began implementing the roll-out of our commitment to purchase only cage-free eggs by 2020, and are looking to introduce this in other territories.

Our mandatory Nestlé Supplier Code (pdf, 1.67Mb) requires our suppliers of animal-derived ingredients to meet all applicable laws and regulations on animal welfare, and to communicate this to their suppliers and to the farmers themselves. To further improve the health, care and welfare of the farm animals in our supply chain – and to meet the expectations of our consumers and stakeholders – we have our Nestlé Commitment on Farm Animal Welfare (pdf, 1.41Mb).

We are committed to eliminating from our global supply chain specific practices that are not consistent with the internationally accepted Five Freedoms:

  • Freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition;
  • Freedom from fear and distress;
  • Freedom from physical and thermal discomfort;
  • Freedom from pain, injury and disease; and
  • Freedom to express normal patterns of behaviour.

Among the specific practices we have committed to eliminating are:

  • For cattle: dehorning; tail docking, disbudding and castration without anaesthetic and analgesia; and veal crates;
  • For pigs: gestation crates; tail docking; and surgical castration;
  • For poultry and eggs: cage systems, particularly barren cages; and rapid-growth practices with respect to the effects on animal health and welfare; and
  • For animal production systems in general: our first focus is the responsible use of antibiotics in line with the OIE's guidance, and the phasing out of growth promoters.
  • Use of performance enhancers in farm animals

    We do not support the use of veterinary medicines with performance enhancing effects in farm animals for the purposes of growth promotion. We believe that any use of such medicines for purely therapeutic purposes should only be carried out under veterinarian advice.

    Regulations and opinions on the use of performance enhancing medication vary significantly around the world. We will not advocate for the approval of performance enhancers in countries where they are not currently permitted for use.

    We are working with farmers and suppliers to promote good agricultural practices which increase yields and safeguard standards without the use of growth promoters.

    Antimicrobial resistance

    The appropriate use of antimicrobials is essential for protecting human and animal health, and for ensuring correct standards of animal welfare. We share concerns over the emergence of antimicrobial resistance.

    As such, we oppose the use of antimicrobials for growth promotion in animals. We also oppose the use of antimicrobials categorised by the World Health Organization as ‘critically important’ or ‘highly important’ for human use, and which are not approved for veterinary use.

    To help address antimicrobial resistance, we endorse international efforts, including the tripartite (FAO-OIE-WHO) approach to promote the responsible use of antimicrobial agents, aimed at minimising the development of antimicrobial resistance.

    Alongside this, we continue to work with our suppliers to support practices and innovations that reduce the need to use antimicrobials in our supply chain, while maintaining correct levels of animal welfare.


We will also support the development and implementation of science-based international standards and guidelines by OIE.

Our annual objectives

Meat, poultry and eggs supply chain traceability results

Meat, poultry and eggs supply chain traceability chart. Total volume in scope: 1.7 million tonnes. Percentage of volume traceable: 10.8% (2016 target: 20%). Percentage of volume Responsibly Sourced: 4% (2016 target: 10%)
  • Total volume in scope 1.7 million tonnes
    Percentage of volume traceable 10.8% (2016 target: 20%)
    Percentage of volume Responsibly Sourced 4% (2016 target: 10%)

Our progress to date

In 2016, Nestlé USA began implementing its policy, announced in December 2015, to switch to using exclusively cage-free eggs in all its US food products by 2020. We are also developing pilot projects with our suppliers and World Animal Protection to establish a roadmap for sourcing cage-free eggs in Europe and the rest of the world.

In 2016, we also began development of an Animal Welfare Roadmap. This is based on research from farm assessments over the last two years, strengthening our approach going forward. Working closely with suppliers will be a key part of delivering the policy, and all our suppliers will be expected to meet the standards required.

Our position on performance enhancers and antimicrobial resistance is set out on our website. Read more here.

Nestlé’s Global Procurement Team continued to deliver training sessions to SGS auditors and Nestlé staff, covering Nestlé’s Responsible Sourcing Guideline requirements and the assessment process, while World Animal Protection conducted training on farm animal welfare. We are gradually implementing our Responsible Sourcing Guideline (assessment) and category-specific requirements along our global supply chains. These reinforce our specific commitments on farm animal welfare, and cover breeding, feeding, housing and husbandry, health, transport and slaughtering.

Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare

In recent years, we have contributed to the stakeholder consultation process on the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW), a global measure of animal welfare standards in food companies supported by World Animal Protection and Compassion in World Farming. In 2016, Nestlé remained in the ‘Tier 3: Established but work to be done’ ranking.

Farm animal welfare management ISO working group

We are actively involved in an international, multi-stakeholder working group that has developed an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) technical specification (TS) on animal welfare. The goal of the TS is to improve the living conditions of animals bred and kept for food production, and to provide a management tool to facilitate the implementation of the animal welfare principles of the World Organisation for Animal Health’s welfare principles. We contributed to a series of working group meetings, and ISO officially released the new technical specification in December 2016. The TS is science based, non-prescriptive and outcome based. It will facilitate the integration of animal welfare principles in business-to-business relations between suppliers and customers, and will provide a route to demonstrate conformance through additional assurance by an external party. We will now work to implement the TS in our supply chain and engage with the OIE to develop further species-specific guidance.

Looking ahead

We continue to trace and assess our supply chains and work with our suppliers on action plans and remedial actions.


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