Nestlé challenges consumers to help tackle sustainable palm oil challenge


Nestlé last week launched a new interactive tool designed to engage customers with the complex sustainability issues facing the palm oil supply chain.

The interactive video platform, called Beneath the Surface, allows viewers to directly experience some of the challenges that the firm faces as it works to source more sustainable palm oil.

Viewers are asked to make a series of decisions to try and ensure a transparent and sustainable palm oil supply chain is maintained on a global scale, with the challenges faced by players of the game highlighting the complexity of the palm oil supply chain.

In 2010, Nestlé pledged to ensure palm oil supply chains were free from deforestation, and, as of December 2020, 70 per cent of its purchased palm oil was assessed to be deforestation-free. Together with both smallholders and major suppliers, the company's goal is to become 100 per cent deforestation-free by 2022.

However, the company is one of a host of consumer goods companies to discover that fully eradicating deforestation from its supply chain is a hugely complex task. Forty per cent of the world's palm oil is produced by small-scale farmers, the company said, and halting procurement from smallholders could have a devastating impact on the lives and livelihoods of producers.

The arrival of Nestlé's new tool comes alongside research, commissioned by the firm, showing that almost a fifth of millennial shoppers tend to avoid purchasing products containing palm oil or will actively check to see whether a product includes the ingredient. Nearly half said they tend to avoid products containing unsustainable palm oil.

Nestlé said the Beneath the Surface platform aims to give viewers a better insight into the complexity of the palm oil supply chain and see how the choices they make under the different scenarios can lead to a range of outcomes and consequences.