Global food company Nestle has today (Wednesday August 11) launched an interactive video platform called 'Beneath the Surface' to raise awareness among consumers about the complex sustainability issues within the palm oil supply chain. The platform allows viewers to directly experience some of the challenges that Nestlé faces in sourcing palm oil. The complexity of the palm oil supply chain is displayed through a series of decisions that viewers are asked to make in order to ensure a transparent and sustainable palm oil supply chain on the global scale.

Nestle research

According to research commissioned by Nestle, around one in five millennial shoppers (17%) tend to avoid purchasing products containing palm oil, or will actively check to see (20%). Almost half (45%) said they tend to avoid products containing unsustainable palm oil.

More than eight out of 10 people (85%) believe consuming sustainable products is important, however one in 10 (12%) say they don’t know exactly what to look for to establish if a product is sustainable.

Of those who do actively check for palm oil and sustainable sourcing, eight out of 10 (85%) look on the pack and a quarter (24%) look on company websites. One in 10 of those surveyed claim that research into environmental creditability takes too long.

Nestle Beneath the Surface

Nestle hopes that the interactive platform, 'Beneath the Surface', will 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. Dr. Emma Keller, head of sustainability, Nestle UK and Ireland, said: “The Beneath the Surface platform enables users to take a peek at some of the dilemmas Nestle and many other organisations face with palm oil every day.
"We hope that by having more open conversations about the complexity of sourcing ingredients such as palm oil, people can understand the issues and make better informed decisions when choosing products.
“We can all play a role towards a sustainable palm oil future where it contributes to protecting and restoring nature to the benefit of people, wildlife and the planet. We are working on it and expect our consumers to continue to hold us to account,” Dr. Keller added. Katja Seidenschnur, sustainability director, Nestle Europe, Middle East and north Africa, said: “We collaborate with expert partners in the palm oil sector to increase the transparency of our supply chain, protect and regenerate ecosystems, respect human and labour rights, and ensure decent working conditions. "Through this campaign, we are taking consumers on an experiential journey of how we ensure sustainable palm oil production, revealing the stories behind their purchasing decisions.”

Source of palm oil

Nestle has said that the palm oil it sources is produced by both large plantation owners and small holders.

The company said it remains committed to supporting small holders to produce sustainable palm oil and to improve their livelihoods.

When asked about the production of palm oil, more than half (56%) of people surveyed think Nestle should work with small farmers, and only one in ten (11%) believe Nestle shouldn’t.

40% of the world's palm oil is produced by small-scale farmers, according to the global company.

In a statement, Nestle said: "Stopping palm oil production by smallholders could have a devastating impact on the lives and livelihoods of millions of small-scale farmers so it is important to continue doing so." In 2010, Nestle pledged to ensure palm oil supply chains are free from deforestation, and as of December 2020, 70% of purchased palm oil was assessed as deforestation-free, according to the company.