skip to main content

From KitKat to pet food: Our innovative partnership with Nestlé

Read Time: 7 minutes

June 24, 2024


Feeding a growing global population while supporting the health of our planet is a big challenge. 

As the world’s largest and most diversified food and beverage company, Nestlé has set big goals to help address that challenge. Goals like reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 50% by 2030 on the road to net zero by 2050. 

“Reaching those goals requires innovative approaches with our partners, above all with strategic suppliers such as Cargill,” says Patricia Stroup, chief procurement officer of Nestlé.

As one of Nestlé’s global food ingredient suppliers, we partner with Nestlé to find better methods of growing food ingredients. The benefits that result include protecting our natural resources, conserving water, improving cocoa farmers’ livelihoods and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our supply chains. 

"At Nestlé, we are constantly searching for new solutions to help advance regenerative food systems at scale, which includes enhancing livelihoods across our value chain at the same time,” says Antonia Wanner, group head of ESG Strategy and Deployment at Nestlé. “Our progress on emissions reductions is proof of our unwavering commitment to our net zero roadmap.”

Nestlé’s focus on advancing regenerative food systems is supported by the efforts Cargill is putting in place to help them reach their ambition. 

From regenerative agriculture practices to the cocoa income accelerator, Cargill and Nestlé’s work together isn’t taking any breaks. Get a taste with these four examples below.


Cocoa: Break for Good

A KitKat bar leans on a pile of certified cocoa beans. Nestlé’s Income Accelerator Program, and its Breaks for Good KitKat, aims to improve the livelihoods of cocoa-farming families while also implementing agriculture practices that can increase crop productivity. 

When it comes to chocolate, there are few more satisfying moments than the gentle “snap” of a KitKat.

That sound — and the taste, too — now has yet another twist as Nestlé unveiled its KitKat “Breaks for Good” bar across Europe. 

The cocoa ingredients used for this bar meet high traceability standards and the bars are made with cocoa sourced from farming families engaged in Nestlé’s Income Accelerator Program. The program focuses on:

  • Aiming to close the living income gap and reduce child labor risks in cocoa farming communities.
  • Encouraging changes in behavior and rewarding positive practices in the home and on the farm, focusing on four areas: school enrollment, good agricultural practices, agroforestry activities and diversified incomes.
  • Incentivizing change by distributing mobile money cash transfers equally between the two household heads (e.g., man and woman) to encourage gender equality, share financial responsibilities and build more resilient households.

So far, the program has reached 30,000 cocoa-farming families in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana with the aim of reaching an estimated 160,000 cocoa-farming families by 2030.

As a pivotal partner of the income accelerator program, Cargill is working with Rainforest Alliance to provide certified cocoa for Nestlé. Cargill uses advanced data tools such as CocoaWise™ to monitor cocoa from beginning to end. This helps us maintain transparency and traceability in the supply chain.

“As a partner on Nestlé’s sustainability journey, we are implementing solutions to source ingredients for Nestlé in ways that help restore the environment, support families and increase incomes,” says Michiel van der Bom, product line director for Cargill’s Europe and West Africa cocoa and chocolate business. “Through our partnership, we are building a stronger, more resilient supply chain together.” 


More shade = more resilience

A cocoa bean farmer stands in front of a cocoa tree. Nestlé, Cargill and ETG | Beyond Beans are partnering to plant more than 2 million shade trees in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

As part of Nestlé’s agroforestry work, Nestlé is working with Cargill and ETG | Beyond Beans to further the benefits of an age-old phenomenon: shade. 

Forest and fruit trees, planted on the cocoa farm, improve water management and biodiversity, can absorb carbon from the atmosphere and cast light shade over cocoa trees. So, they make cocoa farms more resilient against extreme weather events.

That is why we will provide farmers in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire with various types of forest and fruit trees over the next five years through two separate projects. The goal: create a more sustainable cocoa supply chain through agroforestry, regenerative agriculture and reforesting degraded lands around cocoa farming communities. 

Nearly 20,000 farmers will collectively plant more than 2 million shade trees on cocoa farms.

“These projects are important milestones on our joint journey to improving farmers’ livelihoods and reducing our business’ climate impact,” says Darrell High, global cocoa manager at Nestlé. “Long-lasting forest protection requires both improving the way cocoa is grown with agroforestry and the protection of the remaining forests. Our cocoa suppliers are critical to making this happen on the ground, and it is essential we all work with local communities as they appreciate the value of these natural resources.” 

This project is also one of several ways we’re working to protect and restore forests around the globe.


Low-emission fertilizer? All we need is some old cocoa shells.

A farmer runs a rake through piles of cocoa bean shells. Fertilizer has traditionally been a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions. Cargill and Nestlé have partnered to create a lower-emission fertilizer using cocoa shells like those above. 

Nitrogen fertilizers have long been an element of agricultural production. That’s because they help crops grow.

They come with a major environmental impact, though. Nitrogen fertilizer production and use accounts for about 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), according to Nature Food research.

That’s why we’re working with Nestlé to create a more sustainable, low-emission source of fertilizer — through cocoa shells that would otherwise become waste. This two-year circular bioeconomy pilot is evaluating the performance of cocoa shell fertilizers on crop production, soil health and GHG emissions. 

Here’s how it works: 

  • Cargill supplies cocoa shells after processing the cocoa in York, United Kingdom (UK). 
  • CCm Technologies in Swindon, England, processes the shells and creates fertilizer pellets. 
  • The fertilizer goes to farmers who grow and supply wheat.
  • Cargill turns the wheat into flour for Nestlé UK and Ireland’s breakfast cereals and pet food factories. 

Upward of 7,000 tons of fertilizer are expected to be produced in the pilot program’s first two years. The longer-term ambition: to supply a quarter of Nestlé’s fertilizer use for wheat in the UK. 

“We have to find ways to build more resilience into the system, and optimizing our use of natural resources is a critical part of this,” says Matt Ryan, regeneration lead at Nestlé UK & Ireland. “This project is a small, but very meaningful step toward a net zero future, where farmers, local enterprises and nature all stand to benefit.” 

And farmers are seeing promising results. 

Richard Ling, farm manager at Rookery Farm, Wortham in Norfolk, who supplies wheat to Nestlé Purina PetCare, says: “We are really reassured with the results and are looking at running further trials. It’s a step change to be able to use a fertilizer made from a waste stream and see the same results as using a conventional product.”  

Cargill and Nestlé have been working together for more than 60 years, advancing resilient supply chains across communities where we both operate. This innovative cocoa shell fertilizer trial is another example of this strong partnership.

“Together, we hope to contribute to a better future for the British farming industry,” says Sam Thompson, global engineering lead for Cargill’s cocoa and chocolate business.


Happy pets? It starts with happy soil.

A smiling woman stands in a field of crops. Cargill and Nestlé are partnering to support farmers in adopting regenerative agriculture practices across more than 200,000 acres of soy and corn farmland in the U.S.

Purina's highly nutritious pet food starts with high-quality ingredients, some of which may be growing in soy and corn fields like those found throughout the midwestern United States. 

To grow those ingredients in a way that is ultimately better for people, pets and the planet, we are partnering with Nestlé Purina PetCare to support farmers in adopting regenerative agriculture practices on more than 200,000 acres of farmland. This work is estimated to reduce the GHG footprint of the Purina U.S. supply chain for the ingredients sourced from Cargill by up to 40% over the next three years. 

By the end of 2023, Nestlé sourced 15.2% of its global raw materials from farmers adopting regenerative agriculture practices. The company's ambition is to get to 20% globally by 2025. 

“We care about making quality pet food with high-quality ingredients, and that's why Purina is supporting farmers’ transition to regenerative agricultural practices — with soil health restoration at the forefront,” says Nida Bockert, senior director, environmental sustainability Nestlé Purina PetCare in North America. “Partnerships like this help create shared value for farmers, pet owners and the planet. This investment is just one example of how we are helping to bring regenerative food systems to life across our supply chain." 

That’s not all. We’re also partnering with Nestlé through our BeefUp Sustainability program. We’ve invested $15 million together to help wildlife habitats and nurture a strong beef supply chain.

The partnership, which also includes the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, helps farmers adopt voluntary land management practices, improves water management and restores wildlife habitats across more than 1.7 million acres in 15 U.S. states.

While that sounds dog-gone good, it’s just the latest step in what Stewart Derechin, Cargill’s global partner leader for Nestlé, calls “our vision to make regenerative agriculture practices the industry standard.” 

“Through partnerships with our customers like Nestlé,” Stewart adds, “we are helping farmers produce food in a way that is better for the planet, while increasing the productivity and resilience of their farms.”

Want to learn more about the future of food and agriculture? See how Cargill is innovating from idea to impact.


More stories

An employee at Forsman Farms holds a chick in a cage-free environment.

How we helped McDonald’s source 100% cage-free eggs in U.S.

We partnered with McDonald’s and egg producers to help the restaurant chain achieve a bold commitment it set in 2015.

A farmer flies a drone on a cattle feedlot in Brazil.

20 innovations that give a glimpse into the future of food

Learn how we’re shaping the future of food with innovations that reimagine what’s possible across food and agriculture.


The bioeconomy: What it is and why it matters in food and agriculture

Learn how Cargill is innovating to bring the bioeconomy to life across food and agriculture.