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How the Nestlé Cocoa Plan is changing lives

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Martin Brown, Nestlé Oceania’s General Manager of Confectionery travelled to the Ivory Coast earlier this year to get a first-hand look at how Creating Shared Value is improving the lives of cocoa farmers and their families.

What is Creating Shared Value?

At Nestlé we have always believed that in order to prosper, we need the communities we operate in to prosper as well. Creating Shared Value at Nestlé is a win/win, where we contribute to solving a community challenge whilst creating shareholder value. We find these opportunities in the heart of our operations where we make a long term commitment to sustainable solutions. 

How does Creating Shared Value impact your business?

The future sustainability of cocoa farming is a compelling challenge for my business. How do we ensure we have enough supply of sustainable cocoa to cover our production needs now and info the future? We believe in going to the source of a challenge to understand it and find a solution. My first trip to Cote d’Ivoire in 2011 as part of the Nestlé Cocoa Plan gave me a deeper understanding and passion for making a difference by leading in sourcing certified sustainable cocoa. In 2013 we became the only major manufacturer in Australia to use 100% sustainable cocoa in our retail chocolate products. I returned to Cote d’Ivoire earlier this year and have been motivated by the improvements already achieved in income and living conditions of cocoa farmers and their families.

Tell me about the Nestlé Cocoa Plan?

The Nestlé Cocoa Plan was launched in 2009 and since then has been tackling social, economic and environmental issues in cocoa growing communities. It’s a global program that aims to encourage farmers to enter cocoa farming as a livelihood of choice and enable them to run profitable farms, through providing higher yielding cocoa plants, training farmers and rewarding them financially for good quality, sustainably grown cocoa. I’ve seen first-hand the difference it is making in cocoa growing communities.

When it comes to Creating Shared Value, what does success look like?

Success looks like cocoa farming communities improving their incomes and their social living conditions, particularly access to schooling, clean water and sanitation. It absolutely means a zero tolerance to child labour. At the same time, success looks like an environmentally sound, steady supply of quality cocoa. We are making good progress on this journey but there’s considerable work left to do. With 40 schools built in communities around the co-operatives Nestlé is working with, we are making good progress on providing closer access for kids to go to school. Through the distribution of 10 million higher yielding disease resistant cocoa plantlets, we are boosting the economic potential of cocoa farms through rejuvenating crops.

What is your role with Nestlé to support the company on this journey?

It’s my responsibility to accelerate our procurement of UTZ Certified sustainable cocoa and we achieved 100% within all our retail chocolate in 2013. It is also my responsibility to engage with local and international stakeholders to communicate our shared value commitments and build understanding for the collective efforts needed to address the complex challenges in cocoa. It is also key that I share our shared value commitments with our own employees to ensure that the practice and ideals behind Creating Shared Value are understand and embraced by all.

Could the broader society benefit from the Creating Shared Value philosophy?

We are facing a future crisis in health funding and a growing incidence of non-communicable diseases. How we jointly tackle the challenges of building knowledge and understanding that is translated into community-wide healthier habits is a very important shared value opportunity for our community, business and government. We are committed to Creating Shared Value in this challenge.