Without water, farmers cannot grow the crops that provide our raw materials. But in water-scarce areas, an adequate supply is not always easy to maintain.
All Nestlé suppliers must comply with the Nestlé Responsible Sourcing Standard. This standard requires our suppliers to comply with a set of legal and environmental requirements, including for water, and to demonstrate continuous improvement.
In addition, we conduct an annual assessment of current water risk at sourcing locations for key agricultural commodities including cereals, coffee, dairy and sugar, using a combined water stress index that combines results for entire sourcing areas from four publicly available tools: WRI Aqueduct, WWF Water Risk Filter, Pfister Water Stress Index and the Water Depletion dataset by EarthStat.
We also assess future water trends and risks using WRI Aqueduct. Finally, we use the Water Footprint Network methodology to assess the water footprint of key agricultural commodities. Benchmarking the results of the water footprint assessment and water risk helps us to accurately identify risk and prioritize actions in our supply chains.
Our aim is to protect, renew and restore water to create a positive impact in agriculture. This forms part of our work to advance regenerative food systems at scale.
Local needs require tailored solutions. Our approach to water management has always been highly targeted, with detailed action plans to help address key issues.
We are working on projects in several areas, particularly those where water is lacking. We are helping farmers implement better water management practices to save water in their day-to-day work, using technology, knowledge sharing and other educational means.
In Pakistan and South Africa, where drought and water-stress are of concern, Nestlé is working with dairy farmers to implement the use of water sensors and develop water saving techniques for animal feed production. And in Vietnam, we have trained thousands of farmers on best irrigation practices.
Encouraging water-efficient coffee growing in Brazil
In 2019, we built on an existing partnership with the Neumann Foundation to conduct a water study in the Espírito Santo area of Brazil. The aim was to gain a baseline understanding of local water dynamics to better inform irrigation recommendations for farmers.
Despite delays posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have now established goals to be achieved. These objectives will help target our support for farmers to reduce their water use while maintaining crop yields.
We are also supporting farmers to install water meters and improve manure management techniques.
Saving water with tomato suppliers in Spain
In the Extremadura region of southern Spain, agriculture is responsible for nearly 90% of water use. With rains both seasonal and scarce, strong water management is key. We have worked with stakeholders throughout the local tomato supply chain to improve water use techniques. This has included installing new technologies such as buried irrigation, humidity sensors and flow meters. Additionally, we have analyzed the soil to optimize fertilizer use.
As a result, water consumption has reduced dramatically since 2012. This helped our Miajadas facility in Extremadura to become the first European food factory to achieve AWS gold-level certification.