Nestle agrees to track palm oil in its foods

Nestle, the world’s biggest food manufacturer is trialling new technology allowing  customers to transparently trace ingredients in the company’s food back to their original source and exposing any risk of palm oil being included.

Greenpeace protestors dressed as orangutans demonstrate outside a Nestle shareholders’ meeting against palm oil harvesting causing rainforest destruction. Photograph: Antoine Antoniol/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Nestle has been targeted by Greenpeace since 2010 for its failure to fulfil promises it made to stop sourcing palm oil from plantations in the Indonesian jungle. 

The last remaining parcel of Sumatran jungle is inhabited by endangered orangutans, elephants, rhinos and tigers and producing palm oil puts their lives at risk. 

Using Blockchain technology Nestle will pilot its program in New Zealand, in collaboration with OpenSC,  to track some of its food products backward from final destination to the original site.

The New Zealand pilot will trace milk from Kiwi farms to Nestle factories in the Middle East. A second trial will be conducted on a date yet to be announced, will trace its palm oil to the Americas. 

The OpenSC platform, which was developed by WWF-Australia and the Boston Consulting Group Digital Ventures, provides access to verifiable sustainability and supply chain data.

Farwiza Farhan and Leonardo DiCaprio at the Leuser Ecosystem in Aceh last year
Farwiza Farhan and Leonardo DiCaprio at the Leuser Ecosystem in Aceh Photograph: Paul Hilton/ HAkA/EPA

Mars and Hershey’s have also been accused of sourcing palm oil from the Leshar Region in Indonesia. 

Palm oil plantations are the main driver of deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia. The two regions account for 85 percent of global production of palm oil.

Last year Nestle products were removed from the Melbourne Zoo after it lost its sustainable certification. 

Palm oil is used in more than half of all packaged goods, including makeup, cleaning products and numerous household-favourite foods. There have been criticisms that palm oil certified as ‘sustainable’ is still permitted rainforest destruction.

Nestle says it wants its consumers to make informed decisions on their choice of products and choose goods produced responsibly.

“Open blockchain technology might allow us to share reliable information with consumers in an accessible way,” the company said.

Nestle is the first Australian food company to embrace open blockchain technology.