Nestlé ME unveils social responsibility targets

By Eliot Beer

- Last updated on GMT

The company has cut water withdrawal by 42% from 2009 to 2014, it said
The company has cut water withdrawal by 42% from 2009 to 2014, it said

Related tags: Middle east, Jordan, Saudi arabia

Nestlé has released its first corporate accountability report for the region, and promises to cut waste, improve children’s health and reduce salt and sugar in its products.

The company’s “Creating Shared Value​” (CSV) report is the first of its kind in the Middle East for Nestlé, which has issued CSV reports globally and for other regions for some years. According to the Swiss firm, its CSV initiative is aimed at creating “long-term positive value for society​”.

In practical terms, this translates to 38 global commitments, 20 of which Nestlé has applied to the Middle East. These include targets such as reducing the amount of sugar per serving of children’s or teenagers’ breakfast cereals to 9g or less by the end of this year, or completing 41 new responsible sourcing audits for its suppliers – and Nestlé says it will disclose its progress towards these goals in future CSV reports.

Promising transparency

Next year will be our first year in the Middle East to report on achievements of objectives. We have the capacity and more importantly the determination to achieve all our objectives. However, we know that there will be challenges ahead, as we hold ourselves accountable, we will be transparent on the objectives that we will meet and also those who, for any reason we did not meet and require further time to do so​,” said Karine Antoniades, CSV manager at Nestlé Middle East.

While this is the first time we issue publicly our commitments in the Middle East and provide specifics on measurable objectives, it has been several years that we have worked on all these areas, as these are integral to our CSV strategy, and hence the way we do our business and evolve our operations​,” she added.

The company announced some of its specific corporate social responsibility achievements in recent years, including cutting waste by 71% in absolute terms between 2009 and 2014, even while production increased 62%. Per tonne of production, Nestlé also cut water withdrawal by 42% and greenhouse gas emissions by 25% over the same period.

Healthy Kids

One regional project the firm also highlighted was its Healthy Kids, or Ajyal Salima, programme. The initiative, designed and implemented in conjunction with the American University of Beirut (AUB), aims to improve children’s nutritional knowledge, as well as their activity levels.

[The programme] started in Lebanon in 2010, we extended it to Dubai two years later. We kicked it off in Saudi Arabia last year, and we are now discussing with Jordan to launch the same programme there as well​,” said Rainer Mueller, communication and marketing services director at Nestlé Middle East.

Yet the aim is always the same – it is about completely non-branded education of kids in order to help them change their behaviours in terms of having a balanced diet, moving more, more physical activity​,” he added.

While the programme is still under development, it has shown some positive results so far, with AUB academics publishing a paper last year documenting their findings. The Lebanese education ministry has incorporated the programme into its curriculum, and Nestlé and AUB are working with Dubai Educational Zone, Tatweer Education Holding in Saudi Arabia, and the Jordanian Royal Health Awareness Society.

What we see is, in schools where the programme has been implemented, the nutritional knowledge significantly increased, from a statistical perspective. In addition, what we know is, in intervention schools where the programme took place, kids eat twice as much fruit and vegetable compared to schools where the programme did not take place​,” said Mueller.

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