UK – As part of Nestlé’s 2050 net zero roadmap, the Swiss multinational food giant has begun pilot testing for a new sustainable agriculture solution that uses cocoa shells to create a low-carbon fertilizer in the United Kingdom.

As part of the deal, Cargill will process the cocoa at its York facility to create ingredients for Nestle’s confectionary brands, and the upcycled shells will be supplied for the program.

According to Nestle, the two-year trial is designed to examine how cocoa-based fertilizer affects wheat crop production, soil health, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

If successful, Nestle would be able to introduce up to 7,000 tonnes of the low-carbon fertilizer to wheat farmers in its UK supply chain, equivalent to roughly 25% of the company’s fertilizer use for wheat in the country.

The anticipated solution comes at a time when the use of conventional fertilizers is responsible for more than 50% of the carbon footprint of UK-produced wheat, in addition to nearly 5% of global GHG emissions when combined with fertilizer production emissions.

The low-carbon alternative could therefore help establish not only a lower-emission supply chain that uses recycled ingredients from waste streams but also results in a sustainable input for farmers at a reliable price.

“Farmers often find themselves to be among the first groups exposed to global issues, and these risks are then borne by the food system we all depend upon,” said Matt Ryan, regeneration lead at Nestle UK & Ireland.

Ryan added that Nestle has found ways to build more resilience into the system and optimize the use of natural resources, which this project is a critical part of.

“This project is a small, but very meaningful step toward a net zero future, where farmers, local enterprises, and nature all stand to benefit,” Mr. Ryan said

The trials, which were designed and are being overseen by York-based Fera Science Ltd, are currently taking place on arable farms in Suffolk and Northamptonshire.

Regenerative agriculture is also a key element of Nestlé’s Cocoa Plan, as it works closely with farmers in countries like Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to create a more sustainable supply chain for cocoa.

For all the latest grains industry news from Africa, the Middle East and the World, subscribe to our weekly NEWSLETTERS, follow us on LinkedIn and subscribe to our YouTube channel.