We source thousands of tonnes of hazelnuts annually. They are an important ingredient in a range of our foods and beverages, including confectionery - especially chocolate - pastries and ice cream.
The hazelnut supply chain contains serious challenges, especially concerning labor conditions and child labor risks. We work closely with partners and governments to address these issues.
Our approach to sourcing hazelnuts
While the bulk of our hazelnut supply comes from the western and eastern Black Sea region of Türkiye, the world’s largest producer, we also source from Spain, Italy and Azerbaijan. We do not source directly from farms - we use suppliers that obtain hazelnuts through a chain of intermediaries. As well as being used whole, hazelnuts can be roasted, powdered and puréed.
To identify and address the challenges we face in our supply chain, we carry out impact assessments to better understand the needs of the communities where we source our hazelnuts. These assessments have highlighted the need to provide safe and healthy living and working conditions for laborers, especially the many temporary migrant workers, and the existence of child labor. We work alongside suppliers, local communities and governments and implementing partners (Fair Labor Association (FLA) in Türkiye and Verité in Spain and Italy) to carry out assessments and develop programs and initiatives in response.
To drive industry-wide transparency, we have published the list of our hazelnut Tier 1 suppliers (pdf, 300Kb) in our supply chain and the list of their cracking sites, along with their countries of origin.
Implementing social impact assessments
Since 2011, Nestlé has been working with the FLA to assess labor practices in the Turkish hazelnut sector. Working with our suppliers Olam Progida, Balsu and Yavuz, the Turkish Government and local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), we have implemented remedial activities to bring systemic improvements in labor standards to the sector.
We have now shifted our approach from audits, which told us little about the effect of interventions, to a social impact assessment of our actions and activities around training, renovations and summer schools for children.
We also conduct regular impact assessments and follow recommendations. These have included training workers in their places of origin during the quieter months, when participants have more time and energy, and providing guidance on issues such as wages, working hours and occupational health and safety.
Promoting the human rights and livelihoods of workers and children
Lack of awareness of workers’ rights is a serious issue in our hazelnut supply chain. Balsu, one of our key hazelnut suppliers in Türkiye, is working with local authorities, universities, the Turkish Employment Agency and the Agriculture Ministry to provide essential training to workers and labor contractors.
The program takes participants through key aspects of living conditions workers are entitled to, such as shelter, hygiene, sanitation and nutrition. Working conditions are also covered, with participants trained on their rights around wages, working hours, contracts, social security, and grievance and support procedures. There is a particular focus on preventing child labor risks in hazelnut harvesting and on the implementation of contracts for workers in which their rights are clearly stated.
Following the introduction of the program, our supplier Olam Progida has developed legal contracts between farm owners, labor contractors and seasonal migrant workers. The contracts mark a transformational change in the hazelnut supply chain by improving the working conditions of migrant workers and protecting their labor rights, which presents a significant challenge in Türkiye. Olam Progida is implementing this project in cooperation with Türkiye’s Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services. Once the process is completed, workers’ employment rights will be protected by registered legal contracts from the National Employment Agency.
The stipulation for workers’ dates of birth to be provided during the registration process will also help to eliminate child labor risks, as having contracts in place will enable potential underage workers to be identified.
Due to lack of educational resources and facilities, the children of seasonal agricultural workers often suffer academically, especially during busy harvest periods.
Since 2012, we have worked with the International Labor Organization and the Turkish Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services on the summer schools project. Initially launched in the province of Ordu in the eastern Black Sea region, the project has since expanded. Our summer schools are designed to help eliminate child labor risks from the hazelnut supply chain in Türkiye.
The FLA’s study showed us that our efforts targeting child labor risks have been successful. In particular, villages with summer schools have seen a fall in the number of children engaged in child labor compared to those without. Training on labor rights and responsible recruitment raised awareness within the labor community and led to the certification of labor brokers, as well as the application of contracts between farmers, workers and labor brokers, a previously unknown practice for the traditionally informal agricultural sector.
As well as giving the children much-needed education, our summer schools raise awareness about child labor among teachers and local villagers. During the pandemic, we put measures in place to open safe spaces for smaller groups of children and sent them education kits with books and pencils.
In general, there is a lack of awareness of social and agricultural issues among people in the hazelnut production process, especially around gender-based employment relations and child labor risks. There is also a need to help people boost their income.
The Women on the Road program, which was led by one of our suppliers, Olam Progida, has impacted hundreds of women, and men, each year. The project aims to emphasize the important role women play in the supply chain and empower them through trainings about their rights. The information was focused on occupational health and safety rules, reproductive health rights, child rights, career and business life.
Gender stereotypes are common among workers in our hazelnut supply chain. However, when roles and responsibilities are guided by gender, rather than by skill and ambition, girls immediately find themselves disadvantaged in education and training.
Our supplier Olam Progida set up a project to provide a neutral environment in which girls could learn and play alongside boys, participating in traditionally male-dominated activities such as football and science fair. The aim was to break down gender stereotypes and offer the children a safe space to prevent them from working on farms during the harvest.
With many hazelnut harvest workers being seasonal migrants, there is a need to ensure they have adequate living conditions and that they have access to clean drinking water. As part of our responsible hazelnut sourcing program with our Tier 1 supplier Olam Progida, we have improved living conditions for workers.
In partnership with local village heads, we restored a few buildings that we then expanded to act as living areas during the harvest for dozens of seasonal migrant workers.
We also installed mobile WC and showers, which provide access to sanitation to over a hundred seasonal workers and villagers during the harvesting season.
Collaborating with industry partners to create a more sustainable hazelnuts supply
We support a project entitled Harvesting the Future – Responsible Recruitment of Seasonal Migrant Agriculture Workers in Türkiye. The project, now in its second phase, is being led by the Fair Labor Agricultural Alliance, a collaborative platform initiated by the FLA. Activities take place in cooperation with the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform and other agricultural suppliers in Türkiye, as well as their buyers.
Harvesting the Future is a multi-partner project designed to improve recruitment and employment practices for seasonal migrant workers in Türkiye’s agriculture sector. These workers travel as families moving from crop to crop for six to eight months each year. This program aims at improving labor and living conditions for Turkish hazelnut migrant workers beyond the few weeks they spend harvesting hazelnuts, and address the root causes of child labor and forced labor through the entire migration cycle. The program is designed to identify practical and sustainable solutions that benefit workers and can be implemented by agriculture companies, labor contractors and farm owners.
In future, the project aims to focus on child protection and child labor remediation, elimination of hazardous work for workers under age 18, improving access to basic services, and strengthening responsible recruitment, grievance mechanisms, and adherence to living wage standards.