Nestlé identified over 1,000 cases of deforestation per day in palm oil areas

In 2019, Nestlé sourced approximately 455,000 metric tonnes of palm oil and palm kernel oil. Keystone / Tatan Syuflana

Swiss multinational Nestlé received hundreds of thousands of alerts of forest clearing near its palm oil suppliers in 2019 via satellite monitoring.  

This content was published on September 15, 2020 - 15:49

Introduced in 2016, the Starling satellite monitoring service sends the company alerts whenever a forest patch is cleared within 50km of one of the over 1,600 mills it sources palm oil from. In 2019 Nestlé received 388,047 alerts – mainly in Indonesia and Malaysia – which corresponds to 1,063 alerts a day.  

Between 30% and 40% of the alerts occurred within palm oil plantations linked to Nestlé’s suppliers, says Rob McWilliam of the Earthworm Foundation, commissioned by Nestlé to monitor its footprint. 

The total forest loss detected by Starling near Nestlé-supplying mills in 2019 amounted to 472,513 hectares – six times the size of New York City. Nestlé says only 5% of this forest loss occurred within the boundaries of plantations that supply the Swiss company. However, this is a conservative estimate as Nestlé does not yet have the coordinates of all the palm oil plantations in its supply chain.   

In 2019 Nestlé sourced roughly 455,000 metric tonnes of palm oil and palm kernel oil. Of this, 62% can be traced back to the plantation and 93% to the mill. Nestlé is unlikely to meets its commitment of having a zero-deforestation supply chain by 2020 announced ten years ago. So far, around 70% of its palm oil is deforestation free. 

Comments under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at english@swissinfo.ch.

Share this story