The world’s largest food group Nestlé today (27 April) unveiled a new three-pronged sustainability drive in nutrition, water and rural development.

The initiatives include expanding the company’s global education programme focused on nutrition, health and wellness for school-age children, the establishment of an R&D centre in Africa, and a new Nestlé Prize in Creating Shared Value, designed to foster innovation in response to challenges presented by the issues surrounding nutrition, water and rural development. 

“If you fail to work on behalf of the public interest and take shortcuts that place the public at risk, you will also fail your shareholders. We believe that to have long-term business success you must simultaneously create value for shareholders and for the public. At Nestlé, we call this Creating Shared Value, and it is the fundamental principle behind the way we conduct business at Nestlé,” chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe said.

Nestlé said that the new initiatives directly correlate to its long-term nutrition, health and wellness strategy, which has seen the group refocus its portfolio on healthier products. 

The company added that governments alone will not be able to solve the global issues of population growth, access to resources – particularly water – and food security.

Speaking at a press conference in New York, where the company is launching a two-day forum with the UN office for partnerships and the Mission of Switzerland, Brabeck-Letmathe said that the group’s “first priority” was water conservation.

“Without water our company wouldn’t have a sustainable future because we rely on agricultural input and agriculture relies on water… In order to produce one calorie in food you need one liter of water,” he emphasised.

In order to reduce water use, the company is advising the 600,000 farmers who work directly with it on the best ways to conserve water, “constantly” looking at reducing water use on an industrial level and raising awareness of water-related issues on a political level, Brabeck-Letmathe said. .
“Reducing water use, improving nutrition and helping rural communities grow in the ways they want to develop are as essential to the company’s business strategy as they are to creating a healthier world. These new initiatives will benefit the people we touch and are essential building blocks for Nestlé to become the world’s recognised leading nutrition, health and wellness company,” said CEO Paul Bulcke.